Children's Respite Home & Outreach Project, Haiti

by Haiti Hospital Appeal
Robinson, a few days after finding him again
Robinson, a few days after finding him again

The Maison de Benediction continues to do outstanding work!  One recent, particularly powerful success story comes to mind:

Robinson was one of our very first children in the Maison.  He has a neuro-muscular disability, and one day his mother stopped bringing him to the Maison.  We weren’t worried at first, because this is a fairly regular occurrence.  Families go to the countryside to visit relatives, or relatives come to visit and take care of the children for a while.  But Robinson didn’t come back.  Because his mother doesn’t have a permanent address, we couldn’t track her down.  We were able to find his estranged father though, who said he had sent Robinson to Port-de-Paix to live with relatives there.  

On a visit to a local orphanage some months later, we found Robinson again.  He had never left the area.  He was hardly recognizable.  What was once a happy, plump child now was a neglected, emaciated, atrophied shell of a boy.  We have no idea how long he had been confined to his crib, how infrequently he was held or even fed.  We were deeply troubled by this.

One of our community health workers managed to find Robinson’s mother, who also thought he was in Port-de-Paix.  When we told her what had happened, she broke down.  She couldn’t believe what had happened to her son.  At this time, she had just given birth to another son and was living with his father, who was physically and emotionally abusive.  Because of her situation, she couldn’t leave and was fearful that this was how she would always live.

However, that is not the case.  Because of supporters like you, we are able to help Robinson’s mum. We’ve rented a room for her long-term in Quartier Morin and help her with a monthly stipend to ensure she and her children are well-fed and clothed.  Once again Robinson stays three days each week with us at the Maison!  His bright, smiling (and once again plump) face is a blessing to us and a constant reminder of what we can do with your help.  

We can never fully express our gratitude to all of you who help make our mission possible, and we hope you’ll continue to partner with us so that success stories like Robinson continue to happen at the Maison. 

One of Robinson
One of Robinson's friends at the respite home
Robinson re-united with his mum
Robinson re-united with his mum

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One of our children enjoying evening entertainment
One of our children enjoying evening entertainment

Thanks for your continued support, allowing us to care for some of Haiti's most vulnerable children. 

Just today, we had one joyful guardian visit us.  Her child, Mary, used to be part of the project, coming to us as a very withdrawn, and troubled little girl.  This little one had lost her mum, and was distanced from her father who moved abroad.  Mary's troubled start to life, and developmental delay, caused serious concerns to her new guardian, who wondered whether she'd ever recover.  Thanks to the continuous love and therapy of our staff, slowly Mary completely transformed, as little by little a beautiful little smile blossomed.  Her guardian visited today sharing how Mary was now attending school, and doing brilliantly!  She's just one example of the many lives being transformed through this work!

In our last report we shared the difficult financial situation we were facing to continue running this service which cares for children like Mary, and we'd like to share a special thanks to all those who responded.  Thankfully, due to the generous support of our loyal supporters, we've been able to keep the Maison de Benediction running, which has been predominantly due to the kind support of our monthly donors who are part of the Beni Sponsorship Programme.

Beni means 'blessing' in creole, and that's exactly what our supporters are!  So far, we've had 56 people sign up to become a regular monthly donor of this project, and we now have a new challenge.  We're looking to find another 56 people who can help keep this respite home open.  If we succeed in our challenge, then the centre will have enough funds to continue running in the years to come, and what a blessing to children like Mary that would be!

If you've ever been inspired or encouraged by this work, please consider becoming a regular supporter.  Not only do you get to become an official Beni Sponsor, but you get the chance to receive personal updates on one specific child.  To find out more, please visit our web site today.  Equally, if you don't feel able to do this, please consider making another one off donation through GlobalGiving.  We want to keep helping other children like Mary, ensuring they have the future they deserve. Thanks for all your kind support.

One of our staff, with one of our kids
One of our staff, with one of our kids

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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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In June, Paralympian wheelchair sprinter, and Team GB representative Anne Wafula Strike visited HHA’s respite home, which provides a programme of specialised care including physiotherapy, education and development to more than 40 children living with disabilities in some of the poorest communities in the Western hemisphere.

Anne spent time speaking in communities where a huge stigma is attached to children with disabilities; children like Esther, who was found on a rubbish dump in the city and brought to HHA by a local government worker, and 3 year old Jeffie, who has hydrocephelus and severe learning difficulties.  Jeffie lives in one of the poorest areas of the city and is supported by HHA’s Community Based Rehabilitation team.  Her family have been victims of heavy abuse in the community because of a lack of understanding about her condition and a stigma associated with disability that gives rise to fear and rejection.

The HHA team have worked in Haiti, visiting schools, churches and groups to help raise awareness and understanding about disabilities so that Jeffie and others like her can find acceptance and nurturing instead of rejection and abuse. Reflecting on her time in Haiti, Kenyan born Anne commented: “It’s been a very powerful
experience visiting Haiti Hospital Appeal and seeing how people are being given a new lease of life.”

We can’t explain how grateful we are to you for supporting this work with your kind donations. It is very exciting seeing the dream becoming a reality, and that simply would not be possible without your continued support. With staff and patients to support, we are in real need of more regular donors, individuals or groups who would be willing to contribute towards this work on a monthly basis. Please spread the word about HHA, and continue to support us in whatever way you can. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more news and updates.

We hope that this update will again inspire you, reminding you of the difference you have made to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti. Thank you.

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Our three patients and parents leave for PaP
Our three patients and parents leave for PaP

It’s been an exciting start to 2012 with new staff, new equipment, training opportunities and, thanks to our incredibly hard working outreach workers on the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) team, life changing surgery for three beautiful children.

We have a new administrator which is great news and our teacher is delighted to have some new specialist equipment in the school room and has also received training to make sure the children get the most from it.

The absolute best news to share is that the CBR team managed to find a surgery opportunity and secure appointments for three of our children with hydrocephalus; a build-up of fluid in the brain at birth which increases pressure in the brain and causes brain damage plus mental and physical problems.

Three mothers and their children were taken by the CBR team to Port au Prince for assessment.  You can imagine that leaving the safety of rural Cap-hatien was a massive adventure for them, and also very daunting.

After initial assessment they were asked to return a week later to receive life changing surgery. This was exciting but also scary for them and it was great that we could share experiences of past surgeries with them to reassure them. The children all underwent surgery, having shunts fitted which will allow the fluid to drain from the brain, decreasing pressure in the brain and allowing them to develop normally. 

This is an amazing new beginning for these children; thank you so much for helping to make it possible.  Would you like to help create more life changing opportunities for disabled children in the Nord region of Haiti?  If so please partner with us again by donating today. Thank you.

Please remember you can also get regular updates by checking our website news page and blog.

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Organization Information

Haiti Hospital Appeal

Location: West Wickham, Kent - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.haitihospitalappeal.org
Project Leader:
Barry Mann
Volunteer
Bromley, Kent United Kingdom
$9,674 raised of $15,000 goal
 
167 donations
$5,326 to go
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