Healing at NPH
An NPH psychologist explains how we care for each child according to their needs, meet them where they are, and help them move forward in spite of their past.
March 13, 2019 - Haiti
Exavier Salomé is a psychologist at NPH Haiti’s St. Helene’s home, where he works every day with our children in Kenscoff. Now 33, he was born in Projé Linto 2 in Cité Soleil, a slum that is one of the most dangerous and poorest areas of the country.
Exavier describes Cité Soleil as a socially, politically, and economically difficult environment to live in. As a child, he witnessed violence he said you could only imagine, but never really expect to see with your own eyes. Many of his childhood friends have since died, many as a result of this violence and poverty. But he also knows many who, like himself, were able to escape this environment and build a successful future. With these experiences, he is well suited to work with the children in our care.
Today, he has been a psychologist with NPH since 2015. He has a wide variety of experience working as a psychologist in Haiti, citing the 2010 earthquake as one of the most formative periods of his personal and professional career.
The work he does at NPH has two foci. One is education and prevention and the other is support.
Much of Exavier’s work deals with the formation and development of NPH’s adolescents. One program in this area, which he calls ‘In the Home,’ involves monthly debates and discussions with children on topics such as sexual education, aggressiveness, and poor behavior. He also meets with NPH caregivers every Monday and provides trainings and support on key areas decided by the psychology department and NPH directors.
Exavier also works to support children individually, as well as in group settings. Members of the NPH staff main strong lines of communication with his department to better help him assess who is in need of direct individual support. He explains, “At NPH, we are all the fathers, mothers, and families of these children. Anyone working at NPH who sees something abnormal that merits concern knows they can always come to us [the psychologists] to make sure we are able to check in on them.”
Another great example of the individual attention his team provides is his work with students struggling in school, who sit down with him to work through various academic and personal obstacles.
He believes in the success of our childcare model. Children are provided with a stable home environment, with similar-aged children to grow up with, and with full-time caregivers who they can rely on when problems strike. The childcare staff plays the important role of parent within the NPH family, providing love, compassion, and guidance as children grow older.
But Exavier also affirms the importance of the work NPH does keeping children connected to their biological families, too. Fostering these connections keeps children connected to their roots and helps them more fully move forward in spite of past struggles.
While working at a home for vulnerable children brings its share of struggles, the success stories keep Exavier motivated in his work. He remembers one instance, “I had a case at NPH where the child was experiencing urges of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. After several months of work together, I asked the child, as part of an activity, to write how they were feeling, and they said these thoughts had gone away.”