St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children
(For current information click here to see latest newsletter)
St. Vincent’s Beginnings
St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children was started by Sr. Joan Margaret, SSM, in 1945. At the time of its opening there was no schooling available for disabled children, who were often abandoned and left for dead. Sister Joan found such a child, a young blind baby, who had been completely abandoned and took him home to the convent. Eventually a school was established, which grew from a few children being taught under a tree to its current total of over 450 students, including 170 borders.
All the students attending St. Vincent’s are handicapped in some way- blind, deaf, confined to a wheel chair, or needing crutches or braces. However, all students attend classes and are taught to work with their disabilities while continuing to achieve the education they need for future success.
Academic courses are offered for the first nine years at St. Vincent’s. The courses are broken up into three cycles of three years concluding with a national exam taken at the end of a students 6th and 9th year to determine graduation from each cycle.
The students of St. Vincent’s study reading, writing, history, geography, mathematics, English, art and music. Students at St. Vincent’s have in the past taken classes at the nearby Holy Trinity Music School, and discussions are underway to establish this partnership again.
Other Services Offered At St. Vincent’s
Besides the school, St. Vincent’s also houses a medical clinic which treats about 500 patients a month, a physical therapy department, an eye clinic and the only brace shop in all of Haiti.
The brace shop at St. Vincent’s makes, and remakes, braces to order. Their current head was educated in Montreal and came home to work and serve the hundreds of handicapped Haitians who are in need of braces. Many of the workers in the brace shop are former deaf students who graduated from St. Vincent’s.