A few weeks ago, a little girl called Esther with cerebral palsy had been abandoned by the rubbish dump on the main road in Cap-Haitien. It was a sad reminder of the reality of living with disability in Haiti, and we can’t help but wonder what her little mind and heart must be feeling having been left by a pile of rubbish. It’s easy to presume that it’s simple neglect, but from our experience the causes are often much deeper and more tragic. It’s normally incredibly poor mothers, with limited support networks, in seemingly hopeless situations, not knowing whom to turn too. We’ve now found a foster family for Esther as we do with all children who are abandoned at our centre.
That’s why community outreach is a huge element of our work. We have a team of 6 outreach workers who reach out into the community and provide support for families with disabilities. This includes providing pastoral support within the homes of families who are struggling, and making sure they’re connected with appropriate support. These teams also advocate for child rights within the community, and link with schools, churches and other community groups to develop a more inclusive society.
Furthermore, our children’s home “Maison de Benediction” has been extended to include Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) that challenges the issues of disability within the communities close to the home. In the end of August, the CBR team organised a conference for school teachers in Haiti. We ran a two-day conference for 50 schools and 150 teachers training them how to include disabled children in the classroom. Children with disabilities are denied basic education in Haiti as classrooms are not inclusive. It is normal for teachers to whip children for lack of co-operation or bad behaviour. The session on positive behaviour management was a completely new concept especially as teachers normally use the bible to back up their beating of children.
On September 21 st we received an International Team of Orthopaedic surgeons to assess 54 of the disabled children we have identified within the community. This event was a combination of the work of the Community Based Rehabilitation of the Children’s Home and the Rehabilitation Ward at the hospital. Although the Rehab building was only completed the week before this was an ideal opportunity to put it into use for this important day. This work is made possible because of the integrated approach HHA has to disability and rehabilitation, we believe that we can bring life changing interventions through this work to the many children who would otherwise have no access to surgery or prosthetics.
If you’d like to help transform the lives of some of these children please make a donation towards this project today. It is only thanks to you that such positive change is being made! Thanks again and please keep up the great support.
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