The Rehabilitation Centre was set up in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the dramatic increase is need for spinal cord injury treatment. It was the first of its kind in Haiti and still one of only 3 in the country. 8 years on from the earthquake and the team now treats people from a wide range of backgrounds suffering disability for many different reasons.
Jocelyn arrived 3 years ago as he fell out of a tree suffering a spinal cord injury. This injury meant he could not work which has a huge impact on his family as well as him. This kind of sudden life changing injury can be extremely hard both physically and mentally going from being a provider to needing constant care.
At first he was being cared for at home but developed a really bad pressure sore - a constant concern for those with mobility issues. He was then brought to the Rehab unit where he was given a wheelchair, treatment for his wound and therapy. He still has the wound but it is much better than it was.
Rehabilitation is a long process but now, Jocelyn feels at home there, and as his physical condition improves the staff also work on building his confidence and independence to prepare him for life outside of the unit again. He’s being taught new skills – he turns recycled plastic into handbags and is making bracelets, and other items of jewellery. His plans for the future – he wants to be self-employed and run his own business. He’s very happy to get the chance at new life after his injury.
By Sibille Beuhlmann | Rehabilitation Centre Manager
Meet Joseph*, a 10-year old boy, who suddenly, while playing with his friends, fell and tragically injured himself in a way where he could not walk anymore.
His father, who is taking care of him and four other siblings by himself took him to see a clinic run by foreigners who were visiting, where he was promised he would get help for his youngest child. The therapists on the visiting team realised quickly that Joseph needed to be seen more than just once, and needed more help to regain strength to maybe walk again. They contacted our rehabilitation centre. Together with his father, Joseph got onto a taptap (small public bus) and travelled almost 4 hours to get to the next bigger city where they took another bus for 4 hours all the way to Cap-Haitien. Because there are only 3 in-patient rehabilitation facilities in all of Haiti, people often have to travel very far to get to an institution that offers the services they need.
Joseph came witha wheelchair he had already received andwe were able to fit him with special orthosis to stabilise his weak ankles. We also gave him a walker especially adapted for his size.
During daily therapy, he learned how to regain more control of his trunk and posture and began learning selective movements for walking. He was also taught how to use his wheelchair on his own, so not to have to be pushed around by his father all the time.
Our goal, as with every patient, is to make him as independent as possible, so he doesn’t have to rely on too much help from others.
He has already made huge progress and we are excited to see, to what level we can take him!
Joseph’s is a success story like many others from the Rehabilitation Centre. But the hospital is currently facing financial challenges which are threatening all services such as rehab. Any additional help at this time would help secure this project’s future and see us through these challenging times. Thank you for your support.
We are regularly introducing new ways to treat the physical aspects of spinal cord injury and stroke patients. With on-site x-ray and orthopaedic surgery now available, the medical outcomes are improving all the time. However one of the biggest challenges has always been to rehabilitate patients back into work. Despite several success stories, the reality is that the opportunities for those with disabilities in Haiti to get jobs are extremely limited.
So we’re delighted to announce that thanks to our partner charity in Switzerland, Verein Haiti Rehab Schweiz, a new project to build and run a bakery and cafe in Cap-Haitien is underway. This project aims to provide a place of work for patients leaving our Rehabilitation Unit. Whether through work experience and skill development, or through providing permanent employment, the new business venture will be a unique resource in aiding full rehabilitation of patients.
Alongside the vocational benefits, this venture will showcase to the wider community what disabled people can do with the right support. We hope it will challenge further the stigma around disability that remains in Haiti and help more people with disabilities to be included in their communities.
Profits from the business will be put back into other disability projects in and around the hospital. In recent years Verein Haiti Rehab Schweiz has also been able to fund a new accessible toilet and shower block at the hospital and also repairs to the rehab unit’s roof. We’re so grateful to them for committing to another incredibly valuable project which will benefit current and future rehabiliation patients for years to come.
We’ll tell you more about this project as it develops. Thank you so much for your support.
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