One of the biggest challenges for groups like the Haiti Hospital Appeal, is how to develop programmes in Haiti which can become self-sustainable to some extent. Our vision is to equip and empower a Haitian lead health system, which isn't forever reliant upon international support, and every year we make steady steps towards that goal!
In our last update we shared about some of our patients getting their hands dirty with agriculture projects. Well, in the last few months our rehabilitation team have been busy progressing the agriculture projects, and lot's has happened. The team have completed building the wheelchair accessible flower beds (highlighted in our last report), a chicken farm for 120 chickens, and a banana farm (with over 400 bananas)! The chicken project alone will help save the hospital critical funds, as we produce up to 600 eggs each week to support projects which help persons with disabilities. All the patients will have the opportunity to learn vital life skills as part of these projects, which can empower them to develop their own businesses when they return home.
Aside from agriculture, the rehabilitation unit has also been busy welcoming the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation to Haiti, who have been providing some excellent training for medical professionals across North Haiti, developing Neuro-Urology, which is an exciting new medical development for this region! We also had visitors from the International Tennis Federation, who spent several days introducing wheelchair tennis to our patients, which they absolutely loved!
Despite a busy few months, and some exciting progress towards a greater level of self-sustainability, this rehab unit is still very much reliant upon your support. Persons with disabilities in Haiti remain some of the most marginalised in the whole country, and with limited social support from a government level, assistance from individuals like you is critical. We hope you'll be encouraged by what your generous support has achieved in the last few months, and we look forward to updating you with more exciting news in our next update. Thanks for your continued support!
It's been a great start to the year for our Rehabilitation patients, and we wanted to quickly update you on some of the incredible things that have been happening on the ground!
Last weekend three of our spinal cord injury patients took part in a 10km race around Haiti's second largest city! It was a proud moment for them, as they got the chance to fight against the stigma of disability, and showcase their gifts! Hundreds of people watched them whizz through the city, which was a joy to see!
In the last month we've also started some new agricultural projects for persons with disabilities, with raised flower beds where patients can learn to grow their own food! This is a new and exciting development, which provides another arm to our rehabilitation approach. We seek to do everything we can to equip and empower our patients with the skills they need, so that when they leave our care, they can still generate income and live independently. We'll be developing more farming projects for them in the coming months.
It's not only been our Rehab patients who've been busy though! Our staff have been recieving a whole load of training, from wheelchair maintenance, to stroke management! This week they are also getting ready to partner with Team Canada: Healing Hands for Haiti, to help distribute over 100 children's wheelchairs to kids across North Haiti!
It's all very exciting, and only possible thanks to your support! If you'd like to help us continue this critical work, please take a moment to invest in the project today. Thanks for all your support.
It's not every day a Downton Abbey star visits Haiti, but last month we were privileged to welcome our patron, Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, to HHA's hospital in Haiti.
She had a great time with the rehab patients, and even managed to sneak in a game of wheelchair basketball! The staff and patients were thrilled to see her, as Downton fever hit Haiti. Laura shared about her trip in the Sunday Mirror on her return, and spoke of the great need to continue supporting Haiti:
'Like many people, my first encounter with Haiti was seeing the desperate images of the earthquake in 2010. In recent years the country has fallen down the agenda as, inevitably, other news items come to the fore. Coming to Haiti has challenged me, that like many others I had moved on to quickly from Haiti and the devastating images we saw in 2010.'
Our Rehab unit started after the earthquake, which for many people like Laura, was their first encounter with Haiti. However, whilst the news has moved on, this rehab unit is still supporting many people with old and new spial cord injuries. Patients suffering from complete or partial paralysis, who without our help would often literally be left at home to die. The rehab unit also has an outpatient ward which cares for many children with disabilities. The majority of these children have been left disabled due to be being born at home without any medical support, and this is something Laura is passionate to fight against.
That's why, she recently launched our Christmas campaign - A Royal Birth, which is looking to give mothers and babies a safe birth this Christmas! Whilst it's a little different to the Rehab Unit you've supported, it's a critical part of the hospital and we'd love your involvement. Please take a few minutes to visit our special Christmas website which Laura launched in Haiti - www.aroyalbirth.org and find out how you can give mothers and babies a safe birth this Christmas. Your support can save lives!
The patients at the HCBH Rehabilitation Center have taken on a new and exciting project - recycling sugar cane to create charcoal briquettes for cooking. Charcoal is used by the vast majority of Haitians to cook their meals, and currently most charcoal is produced from wood. As deforestation is one of Haiti’s largest environmental, agricultural, and economic threats, this development brings hope for a brighter future for Haiti.
To make the briquettes, dried sugar cane waste (“bagas”) left over from commercial cane production is burned quickly, mixed with water and a starch, pressed into briquettes, and left to dry in the sun. The tools necessary for the process are easy to procure and relatively cheap, about 25 USD.
We have partnered with a couple organizations (Carbon Roots Int’l and Second Mile) to pioneer this program, which promises to be life-changing for our rehabilitation patients. Upon leaving the rehab center, our patients will have the tools and skills to run their own charcoal production business. “Cocobai,” meaning “worthless” is how many Haitians refer to the handicapped, as it is usually practically impossible for them to find a livelihood, so this program gives our patients a second chance at a normal life and an opportunity to change perceptions about disability.
We thank you for your support of the HCBH Rehabilitation Center. Without your generous contributions, programs like this are not able to happen. You are a vital part of our life-changing ministry, and we hope we can count on your continued donations.
In our last report, we highlighted the exciting time one of our rehab patients had in London, representing Haiti at the London 2012 Paralympians. Just a few months after he returned, the legacy of London really started in Haiti, as we partnered with a number of groups and opened Haiti's first purpose built Inclusive Sports Centre, as part of our rehabilitation unit.
It's been amazing to see the community get involved in this new area of our work. The heart behind this exciting new facility is to empower persons with disabilities, and overcome the stigma of disability which so often alienates persons with disabilities from the community. The good news is...it's working! Some of the local community who once looked on and laughed at some of our patients playing sport, now use the gym with them, and are developing friendships! This includes our wheelchair basket ball players, playing with able bodied users, and the local amputee football team using the gym for training. One person from the local community said 'this is the first time something has been built, where they can come with our disabled friends.'
The rehab unit has really benefited from this project. One of our younger rehab patients had been suffering with severe depression, as he tried to come to terms with his paralysis. However, thanks to the continued work of our team and the new sports activities available, his outlook was completely transformed, and he left the hospital as a confident, young man. This is just one example of the difference being made thanks to your support! Please continue to join us, as we seek to empower those with disabilities, and prove that disability is not inability!
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