Neriah Community Health Foundation
History of the Neriah Community Health Foundation
During the time while I was in high school in Haiti, I watched and witnessed the health
domain of my country deteriorate bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece. Since then, I decided I was not going to be just a watcher or a witness to failure in my community. I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a doctor. A doctor to help promote health awareness in the communities that need it most, a doctor that puts health before money, a doctor for the unfortunates.
In 2001, I left Haiti for America along with my parents and my siblings. I was heartbroken to leave the only country I had ever known, however a brighter future awaited me in the United States. After all everything happens for a reason and I was about to find out that reason sooner or later. The good thing about moving to America is that there are so many opportunities given to you and all I had to do was seize them. Shortly after moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, I began my studies toward a degree at
Roxbury Community College and I had to also prepare myself for the upcoming obstacles that I was bound to face.
I seized the opportunity that was presented to me and pursued a career in nursing; I transferred to Worcester State College because I felt uncertain about that path back to Haiti. At Worcester State College, I pursued a major in community health and I felt closer to accomplishing my dream of establishing a clinic for the needy in Haiti someday. I am now pursuing a Masters in Public Health which, I believe, will aid our ministry as well. Lucky for me, my husband, an agronomist and a veterinarian, had a dream similar to mine. I said to myself, what a coincidence? Now a few years later, with the support of many of our sponsors both here and in Haiti, our dreams to help our communities take a step forward and into a better and safer health environment are coming true.
I shared this idea with some folks and finally while doing my fellowship with Global Health Corps/Covenant House in Newark, New Jersey by the end of November 2009; Neriah Community Health Foundation was born. The name was chosen from Jeremiah32 v 12, meaning “light, lamp of the Lord”. I could not wait to put the idea on paper and to get it started. That was all I could do during that time while serving Homeless teenagers in Newark, NJ. We were also encouraged by Stonecrest Community Church in New Jersey as well as Abundant Life Church in Massachusetts to get involved in missions.
My husband, Dony was in Haiti to assess and identify villages’ and an area where we might place a health clinic. At this time, the earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. Although he was not able to leave the country, he began to help the people affected by
the quake, by feeding them, buying them clothes, at the local hospital in Cite Lumiere, Les Cayes, Haiti. It was here, at this location, where he saw the need reinforced to bring healthcare to the people in the remote areas throughout Haiti that the seed was planted. It was this type of condition that had convicted and directed us. He was there from December 2009 to January 14, 2010, thank God, he survived and was able to return to the U.S on January 29, 2010.
After my Fellowship retreat with the Global Health Corps from Tanzania, Africa we had to move back to Massachusetts with our baby boy Josiah who was born in New Jersey and two years later our daughter Lillian was born in Massachusetts. While working there we were encouraged by a Haitian friend who helped us start the process of creating a 501(c) 3, and assisted by a lawyer from our church in New Jersey who guided us on Foundation development that would help us to finalize this process. Finally, we got
incorporated in Massachusetts on October 21, 2010; and Neriah Community Health Foundation became a 501 (c) 3 Non-profit Foundation Charitable Organization in August 31, 2011.
At first, we had no fixed location for the health clinic but then because of my husband’s travels in Haiti we discovered a place called “LA FRASILLIERE”. It happened when my husband was transporting a patient from an outlying destination to a local hospital. He
had a conversation with her and got to know her for the small amount of time they were driving. She shared with him that her community had neither a hospital nor a clinic…nothing. They had to travel miles and miles away from their homes to a different location just to receive basic care. Her story touched him deeply and he agreed to go to her community for a visit. Right then and there, he fell in love with the people, the place, and told me that he had found a location for Neriah’s Community Health Center. He felt very passionate about the place and the residents from there and when I went to check it out myself there was no doubt in my mind, I knew it was the perfect location for the clinic because these individuals desperately needed someone’s help and my husband and I chose to be that help.
There is nothing like encouragement and determination when you want to accomplish a project. Any steps you have to take in life, as long as your heart is in it for the right reason, do not get discouraged if it is for a good cause for your community and meets
your need to serve. Seek help and learn how you can put it into action, and you will be successful. Follow the good model reject the bad ones, and remember if you are a Christian, Jesus-Christ will guide you to achieve. Let us be encouraged by one another, and think also about a third-world country? If you are lucky to be in the U.S and you have a doctor, let us think about another country that need your help and see a community as a whole.
First and foremost, we thank our Mighty Lord. Please, continue to support Neriah
Community Health Foundation in any way that you are able.
Thank you very much!
Dony and Ketline Etienne-Vilma
- A nonprofit organization serving marginalized communities in Haiti to improve their quality of life.
- Empowering underserved people by serving their healthcare needs and educating them on preventive healthcare. In addition providing education to children and people with disabilities to enhance their opportunities and help them develop necessary skills.
- Providing care and services in the light and love of the Lord to give villagers hope for the future and help them build stronger communities.
- Embracing the potential, we can achieve by working together this faith-based organization, collaborates with individuals, churches and organizations from around the world to build and develop Medical Centers in undeserved areas, wherever such care is needed for the poor.
- Our goal is to build infrastructure, provide long term health and educational services on behalf of those in need.
Board and Advisory Committee
Due to privacy and security reasons, all names of Board and Advisory Committee are kept confidential.
Lafresiliere is a distance of approximately 15 Km from the city of Les Cayes, it has a resident population of 15,242 and, it is one of the 41 communities of this section of Torbeck. In terms of agriculture, they produce, corn, millet, manioc, peas, vetiver (this is a robust grass with spongy roots and long, thin leaves and small brown to purple flowers. The roots are an essential ingredient to make oil).
This town is surrounded by several other communities in which a large population of families is deprived of health care centers and hospitals. If someone of this area is sick they have to walk miles and miles to get to a health center or hospital. Therefore, the need for a health center is critical for survival not only for this zone but other sections as well in the overall population of 31,142 people in city of Torbeck.
We believe that this deprived area and its people can be taught to lead healthy and self-sustaining lives by creating a comprehensive and vibrant health center to meet their needs.