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Lourie Center Leader Plans Return to Help Haiti

Story by Clarencia Stephen

Jimmy Venza, PhD (front, center), leads the Haiti Hope and Healing Project team.

The Haiti Hope and Healing Project team, a collaboration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Hope for Humanity Program, has asked staff at Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children (the Lourie Center) to lend their clinical expertise to develop a training program to help the teachers and children’s ministers who serve the children and families in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Lourie Center, an Adventist HealthCare entity based in Rockville, Md., is a pioneer in the field of child development.

Following the devastating earthquake last January, James Venza, PhD, associate executive director of the Lourie Center and a member of the Haiti Hope and Healing Project team, visited Port-au-Prince to assess the emotional needs of the country’s children, parents, teachers and ministers. The team returned in August 2010 to implement a training program that was specifically designed to help the children and families overcome the trauma they experienced as a result of the earthquake.

“Some Haitian children lost half their classmates as they fled their school while others lost family members and friends,” said Dr. Venza. “The adult training participants watched as victims of the earthquake were moved into mass graves in Port-au-Prince to protect against the spread of disease.”

Dr. Venza’s trip is postponed until February due to political unrest in Haiti associated with the upcoming election. He and the Haiti Hope and Healing Project team members look forward to returning to observe the progress of the program and to provide additional training.

Members of the project team listen to children talk about their experiences in Haiti..

The Haiti Hope and Healing project team facilitates a listening session among a group of Haitian women.