Health
 Haiti
Project #4583

Haiti Rehabilitation Centre

by Hope Health Action
Child in adapted wheelchair
Child in adapted wheelchair

Getting wheelchairs to Haiti is always a challenge. Most chairs available in developed countries are not very suitable for a country with plenty of bad roads, heat, humidity, dirt and rain. So we partner with the Walkabout Foundation, who has been sending wheelchairs to Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. They construct chairs that are more adapted to the needs of wheelchairs in a country like Haiti. They are a real blessing to us at the Rehab Unit but more importantly the patients who gain new independance and mobility from these special chairs.

For the first time now, we are receiving a shipment of 200 wheelchairs directly into Cap-Haitien, only 30 minutes from the hospital! This is very exciting for us as we have always had to get our chairs in Port-au-Prince, a long drive and expensive journey to get the few chairs we usually received, up to the North.

The need for wheelchairs is high, especially at our clinic as we are the only rehab facility in the North of Haiti. We have people coming to see us from all over the Cap-Haitien region. As soon as the the chairs arrive at our hospital, we will be calling our waiting list of patients to come and finally pick up their much needed wheelchair. We cannot wait to see a lot of smiling, happy faces! 

When you support the Rehab facility, you are not only providing specialist medical care but a long term committment to improve the lives of the people we see. The wheelchairs are a key tool in rebuilding lives but, as you've read about in pther reports, our work spans all parts of the patients lives from housing to jobs and beyond. Thank you for being part of this amazing project.

Unloading the container
Unloading the container

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Dieudonne in his new house
Dieudonne in his new house

Discharging people with a spinal cord injury who do not have family is always a challenge. Over the past few years, we have been trying to find a good solution for these patients staying at our rehabilitation unit. We created a transition home outside of our volunteer village and had three patients move in there. The transition home was equipped with the basic needs of a Haitian house.

Now, a little over a year later, they have finally found their own homes and were able to move out. They got some financial help to get the basic needs for their new houses, a bed, mosquito net and a solar lamp. We were also able to help them with a little start up business, so they can now continue caring for themselves and their families.

It is always strange to let people go after they have stayed with us for such a long time. And one never really knows, if the plans that were made are actually going to work out.

I went to visit Dieudonne last week. The little house he lives in isn’t gray inside anymore, he had some friends come help him paint the walls to make it look more friendly. Everything inside the one room was neat and clean, he proudly told me how much he liked to finally be able to take care of everything himself.

Every day he rides, propelling his wheelchair, about 15 minutes up the main road to where he works in a cooperation building solar panels. He was part of a UN project which offered him a one year training in that field. He doesn’t stop working when he gets back home. With the start up aid he got when he left the hospital, he purchased material to make smaller solar panels at his house, which he can sell in his neighbourhood to make some extra money to live on.

He still has to come to the rehab unit regularly to check and dress his wounds. But it is great to see what education of the patient and continuous training of the staff here can do! 

We believe that the long term future of every patient is just as important as the intensive rehab they receive at the hospital. Finding ways to empower the patients giving them independence and access to work is so important and something we will always work to improve. Your support is helping to shape the future for these Haitians and they thank you whole heartedly for it.

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Fritzner and Senatus in Switzerland
Fritzner and Senatus in Switzerland

It has been an eventful couple of months in the rehab centre. Firstly, a volunteer from the International Tennis Federation came to work with a couple of the rehab patients and as part of her visit they were able to participate playing wheelchair tennis in a local tennis festival in town. Herod was the champion, narrowly beating Fritzner to the trophy.

However, Fritzner can be forgiven for maybe not giving his all for the tennis cause as he has been training for the world championships in hand-cycling. Along with his trusty trainer, Senatus, he has been steadily training for the past six months on the roads surrounding the hospital to get in shape for the race. The world championships this year are taking place in Switzerland, and the duo had visas approved just in time to fly out mid-June so that they could acclimatise and continue their intense training schedule in Europe for six weeks before the big race at the end of July.

Our goal has never been to send all rehab patiants to compete in world competitions but through Fritzner's success many other disabled Haitians will be inspired to rebuild their lives and gain confidence from knowing their disability does not need to hold them back. Rehabilitation of the mind is sometimes harder than the body but just as Fritzner was inspired by the words of a disabled sports star who visited the hospital several years ago, many others will be inspired by him. 

There were also tears at the rehab centre as the team said goodbye to Dr Moise, who has been part of the rehab centre since the very beginning. He has dedicated five years to HCBH, using his expertise to help establish the rehab service, and helping to make it the leading rehabilitation centre for spinal cord injuries that it is today. Staff said goodbye in a touching service where various members of staff paid homage to his dedication and contribution to the rehab centre. He will be missed but leaves behind a highly trained and competent team to carry on his great work!

Wheelchair tennis tournament
Wheelchair tennis tournament

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Race up the Citadelle
Race up the Citadelle

Everyone is given challenges to overcome in life. We happen to work with patients who are in rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury. People who are viewed as lesser or incapable. But if you can spend just a few hours in the rehab building, you encounter people who are unwilling to let their physical challenges define them. Sibille, a physical therapist who has chosen to devote so much of her life to our rehab facility, had been toying with the idea of taking some of our wheelchair-bound patients up to the Citadelle. The Citadelle Laferrière represents all that Haiti has overcome and fought for. It is the largest fortress in the Americas and was built by Henri Christophe, a key figure during the slave revolt that eventually led to Haiti’s independence.

So when Sibille heard that there would be race to the top on Saturday, she took it as an opportunity to take 4 wheelchair-bound guys on an adventure. We had the privilege of partnering with Streethearts, a nonprofit that provides a safe haven for hundreds of street children in Cap-Haitien. They brought 15 teenagers to make the trek with us. Very rarely do things in this country go as planned, but one thing we couldn’t plan for were these former street kids embracing our wheelchair-bound guys. There is camaraderie in challenges- whether your challenge is getting off the street or learning to overcome your physical disability. The Streethearts kids listened intently as Sibille gave strict instructions about the protocol of pushing, dos and don’ts, and then released the teams of kids to climb the Citadelle.

Laughing, running (more like sprinting!), sweating, guzzling water, breaks in the shade, and then, finally, the top! Grins appeared on faces that we have rarely seen crack a smile. It was incredible to introduce these young men to such a significant piece of their country’s history. But it was also amazing to talk to people we passed about the abilities these four men have. Seeing people on two legs struggle up that mountain look with awe as they are overtaken by a man in a wheelchair did more for disability awareness than any signs or literature. Sometimes the best teaching is done by showing. We are so proud of these young men's accomplishment. Again, disability not inability.

Getting their briefing
Getting their briefing
Reaching the top - amazing achievement!
Reaching the top - amazing achievement!
A team effort
A team effort

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Samuel, a survivor working with us to bring hope
Samuel, a survivor working with us to bring hope

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12th January 2010.  With around 3,500,000 people affected, an estimated 220,000 lives lost, and over 300,000 injured, many questioned Haiti's future.

Thanks to your support, our response has left a legacy that continues to save thousands of lives every year.  The earthquake was our call to care for those with paralysis in Haiti.  However, our work goes beyond just rehabilitation.  We also help support one of the leading Maternity and Paediatric Units in North Haiti.

Thanks to the incredible support of Konbit Sante (one of our partners in Haiti) we have a unique opportunity to match fund every donation people make towards our Maternity and Paediatric work, pound for pound.  That means if you donate £10, we can instantly double it to £20.

Please join with us and make a special donation to this critical work today, in memory of January 12th 2010.  Your support can help keep a leading Maternity and Paediatric Unit in North Haiti open through out 2015.  If you have time, please also take a moment to share our Global Giving Match Fund page with your friends and family.  For many, this may be the perfect way to remember Haiti 5 years on.  Please visit our page today:

http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/run-a-pediatric-and-maternity-unit-in-haiti/

Thanks again for your continued kind support.

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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, United Kingdom
$2,213 raised of $40,000 goal
 
49 donations
$37,787 to go
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