Children's Respite Home & Outreach Project, Haiti

by Hope Health Action
Vetted

Many of the kids who attend the Respite Centre have physical disabilities making it impossible to walk. With appropriate wheelchairs often too expensive or simply not available in Haiti, many children we see have never had their own chair and spend their days sitting in a things like baby strollers, or just on the floor. Besides the obvious mobility restrictions, a child living in this way has other affects on their lives.

Kervens is a lovely boy of 8 years old who has been coming to the project for several years. His family of 7 live in a 1 room house in one of the poorest slums of Cap-Hatien. His disability is such that he cannot walk or talk but is still very aware and can communicate with his eyes. He loves being involved in activities and coming to the Respite Centre.

Kervens has always sat in an old baby stroller which meant he was nearly lying down and made him seem a lot younger and less aware of what was happening that was actually the case. Because of that he could easily be ignored or left out.

HHA work with the Walkabout Foundation to supply adapted wheelchairs to people with disabilities in Haiti, and last month, Kervens was finally able to receive his own chair. His older brother came in and was part of the fitting process so he can help out with the chair when at home. This simple bit of equipment will totally transform Kerven's life. He now sits upright in a full size chair which makes him much more noticeable. He will no longer be dismissed as a quiet 'baby' but seen as a happy 8 year old boy who happens to have a disability. 

For us, providing a fitted wheelchair to a child does more than provide increased physical mobility - it allows them to take their rightful place in society and to be recognised for who they are. Kervens is a much loved child both at his home and at our respite centre so everything, including Kervens himself, is delighted that he now has his own wheelchair.

Your support is really making these positive outcomes possible so thank you so much from everyone at HHA!

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New roof timbers
New roof timbers

Everyone who visits the respite home (Maison de Benediction) feels what a special place it is. In a society that struggles to accept disability, it really stands out as a beacon for compassionate care and dignity for children who have as much right to be happy as anyone else. We're very proud of the Maison and we can't thank you enough for supporting this special place.

Of course, much of the heart of the place comes from the people. The staff are incredible giving so much of their lives to care for the children. And the children bring so much happiness. When you visit you are sure to be greeted with several huge smiles and hugs! But there's an unsung hero which has been looking after everyone for many years and is very much part of the character there...the building itself. It was one of the first buildings on the site and has been standing by watching the neighbouring hospital grow and grow over the last 10 years.

Conditions in Haiti can take its toll on buildings and after many years the Maison was in desperate need of a refurbish. The roof was leaking in several places, there was a widespread termite infestation in the roof timber making a lots of mess but more worryingly weakening the structure. And the staff had been making do with inadequate kitchen facilties for many years.

Finding the money to run the home is a challenge so finding the money to make the repairs seemed unlikely. But our friends at The Haiti Health Trust and one of our supporting schools in the UK came to the rescue working so hard to raise around £20,000 for the work to be done. This summer the kids and staff moved out and work began to fit a completely new roof, kitchen, windows and doors. The results have been amazing and the Maison is now set to look after the children and staff for many more years.

Last month the Maison re-opened with everyone excited by the transformation. The kids made some signs saying 'MESI', meaning thank you, for all those who contrbuted to their newly refurbished home!  

In other news, the newly created Community Rehabilitation Team have been working hard over the summer to help children with disabilities out in the community. They have already visited hundreds of families providing physotherapy, education and also advocating on their behalf with community institutions like schools and churches. We are sure that this project will continue to have a huge impact on those who cannot come to the respite home but need just as much care.

Thank you so much to you for your support of this vital work. Please continue it if you can. We need your regular support. 

old roof timbers
old roof timbers
work on the kitchen
work on the kitchen
With new roof on
With new roof on
Nice new kitchen
Nice new kitchen

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I am 19. I have taken time off from school to come and volunteer with HHA and offer what I can. I am by no means a qualified Doctor, Teacher, or Agriculture expert; people who could do wonders In Haiti.

With my time I have had the privilege of coming across and working with some of the children at the respite home (Maison de Benediction) here. At the Maison, be it mentally or physically, all are disabled ranging in severity. In what might be ignorance with my age I have brought a multitude of easy musical instruments, balls, and some hygiene products. After seeing these children I quickly realized this is not what they truly need. They need better nutrition. They need better equipment. What they need.... is more attention.

For what I have brought, it is truly beautiful to see how far it has managed to go. I did not bring everything at once and for some time there was chaos over who gets what. Now each child has taken to one thing or another. I can come and play some soccer or pick up a drum and everybody will grab their new trinkets and join in even if it is just one note over and over. It is an escape that these kids enjoy.

But this is not always the case.

As these kids grow on me I do my best to come with the same enthusiasm and get them to jump in. Unfortunately, too often I see kids quiet or tired, who don't want to or suddenly stop participating. Like healthy children, they too are sad, or tired, or hungry, or sick, or irritated because their clothes are dirty and causing sensitive skin or insects to harass them. The difference is that in other 1st world countries these are easily resolved or removed entirely. For several of these children the families they go home to at the end of the week really struggle to provide the intense amount of care needed.

However, without the Maison the quality of life for each child would be drastically worse. They would not have any degree of the attention, schooling, or even the recreational interaction the staff provides.

I am 19. As a result of that I don't have the qualifications or ability to give these kids some of the solutions they need. But I can come and cheer them up for some time while I'm here. So when somebody donates or volunteers I can vouch for how far it can go for these kids.

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Girls at the respite home
Girls at the respite home

There has been some really positive development for the respite home in recent months with more families now receiving care through the home. And now we have even more to celebrate because through an unexpected source of funding, we are now working on a plan to deliver a 3 year Community Based Rehab project as an extension of the respite home.

We have run this project in the past through some short term funding and the results were amazing. The team's work included providing pastoral and social support to the families who often face abuse and alienation from the community, monitoring the health and well being of the child and family ensuring effective referrals are made for hospital based physiotherapy and medical consultations, and advocating for the rights of the family in the local community. 

In addition community education was a key part of the programme including work with churches and schools to increase integration for disabled children into mainstream society. The results showed a significant change in attitudes towards children with disabilities and communities starting to care for those among them with disabilities rather than excluding them.

So we're absolutely delighted that we now have the opportunity to run the programme for an extended period of time. We look forward to kicking this project off later in the year and keeping you up-to-date with developments.

We do however need to stress that the respite home still relies on your generous support to keep providing residential and family support to the community's most disadvantaged children. Thank you for everything you have done to support this work and please continue this support as the project develops.  

The Maison de Benediction respite home continues to grow from strength to strength, and as 2015 ends we reflect on progress and growth we can see that has happened over the year.

We have revised our timetable to allow for more activities and progression for the children. The children have clear targets that they are working towards. We have a new child, Roudley, who is blind. Her family have struggled to care for her and to work but now with the help of the MdB they can work and do not need to leave Roudley at home on her own. She is now at the respite home where she can discover new activities and is beginning to understand the routines and what happens.

The children have had intensive training on speech and language therapy from several UK speech and language therapists. This has resulted in the children making great progress. Each day these children have a speech and language session led by Nancie the project leader. They practise making sounds and using pictures to communicate. This has been wonderful for the children to be able to communicate more fully.

In preparation for Christmas all the children were given a present. This is a package with some clothes, soap and a toy for them to celebrate with in their homes. We look forward to another year of moving forward in 2016.

Thank you so much for making this project such a success and changing so many lives for the better. We have more plans for 2016 and beyond so we'd love for you to come with us on this journey.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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Organization Information

Hope Health Action

Location: West Wickham, Kent - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.hopehealthaction.org
Project Leader:
Barry Mann
Volunteer
Bromley, Kent United Kingdom
$10,837 raised of $15,000 goal
 
205 donations
$4,163 to go
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