The ‘Maison de Benediction’ continues to provide respite care for disabled children, offering specialised education and medical care for the children, and the time to be able to work or attend education themselves for the families. A Community outreach project was started two years ago, and continues to thrive. Team members go out into the communities, to locate children who would benefit from the services we offer, but also to meet with community and religious groups to advocate for the rights of disabled people, educating leaders and groups on disabilities and encouraging communities to accept and include disabled people into active community life as equals. In Haiti, this can be a paradigm-shifting message, where a common term for the disabled in the local language is ‘cocobai’, which literally translates as ‘worthless’. Disabilities are often viewed as a curse, and the families of disabled people can feel compelled to abandon or hide their disabled family members.
Funding has been difficult this year, with the loss of two partners through financial difficulties – which have, in turn, affected our financial capacity for this project. The number of days that the centre runs has been reduced to 4 days per week, and our community-based respite care has had to be put on hold – although our community outreach work continues, through the support of the Baptist Church. We have launched a child sponsorship programme called ‘Beni’ (Haitian creole for ‘blessing’), which invites you to be a blessing to an individual child by supporting the work of the centre. We ask for a regular commitment of £10, £15 or £20 per month – and you can find out more information from our website.
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