Health
 Haiti
Project #4583

Haiti Rehabilitation Centre

by Hope Health Action
Vetted
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.

Links:

Jean-Pierre and his wife moving into new home
Jean-Pierre and his wife moving into new home

It has been a busy few months at the rehab centre, with the facility being at full capacity of patients solidly for three months. The rehab centre have also benefitted from several international volunteers over the past few months, including a physiotherapist from the UK and two occupational therapists who work for our partner organisation THHT (The Haiti Health Trust). They provided staff with training in relation to stroke patients, including new assessment techniques to test patients’ cognitive abilities. A team from the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation also spent a period of three weeks at the rehab facility, particularly focusing on adapting and fixing wheelchairs with better positioning for all patients, and helping with the physiotherapy for outpatients which can number up to forty in one morning. We are also excited to welcome back Sibille, a physiotherapist from Switzerland who has worked with the rehab centre since the beginning, and who is now living and working in Haiti for a year. We are so grateful to all our supporters, those who are able to come to the hospital and serve our staff and patients in person, but also those who enable them to come and commit to supporting the hospital from afar as without you, we would be unable to continue to change the lives of patients, for example that of Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre, who has been a patient in the rehab centre for the past 16 months after a motor accident rendered him paralysed, is moving into a house mid-December, just in time for Christmas. The staff helped him to find a house in the local area, and have helped with adaptations so it is fully wheelchair accessible. Although we’re sure he’ll be back in the rehab centre for the Christmas party –  patients have been making decorations for more than a week, and are looking forward to sharing a meal and music together this week.

On behave of all of our team, and the patients we are privileged to serve, thank you for making 2014 a wonderful year.  We hope you will feel encouraged by the difference you have made.  May we close by wishing you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

With much love and thanks

All the HHA team

Wheelchairs donated by Swiss Paraplegic Foundation
Wheelchairs donated by Swiss Paraplegic Foundation

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Patients from the rehab unit enjoying sports!
Patients from the rehab unit enjoying sports!

During the summer, our rehabilitation unit received the first patient referral from a new helicopter service that has been launched in Haiti.  It was a privilege for our unit to have been chosen and included in this inaugural flight, and something the patients and staff were very excited about!  The rehab unit is already being used as a national referral centre, and this new helicopter service will support that further.

We receive patients from all across the country, many who have been left in devastating conditions.  One such patient was a man who was referred to us over the summer.  Like many persons with disabilities, this man was a forgotten figure.  Perhaps a forgotten father, son, friend, husband.  It is not uncommon that once someone is left paralysed in Haiti, their family and friends reject them.  Whilst many would view this mans life as hopeless, due to his paralysis and a number of other challenges, our team have been working hard to offer him new life.  Over the years, we have seen so many lives which were once viewed as 'hopeless', being restored!  Whilst this man starts his rehabilitation journey, others almost come to the end of their time with us.

One such individual, was another man who was also referred to us in a terrible state.  He was found abandoned on a wooden bench at another hospital, physically weak, and left partially paralysed after being stabbed in a gang fight.  Despite being abandoned and left for dead, he is now a new man.  His wheelchair and rehabilitation have given him new life, and it's amazing to see him whizz around the hospital with a smile on his face, participating in the many activities available for him.

Whether these patients are at the start or end of their rehabilitation journey with us, they need your support.  We hope these two stories will share both the moving reality of disability in Haiti, but also the hope of what can be achieved.  Please do continue to support this critical work, and if possible, spread the word so we can get others involved!  The end of the year is always a difficult financial period for our disability work, and any additional support would be a real blessing.  Thanks for your continued support.

New patient arrives with 1st air ambulance flight
New patient arrives with 1st air ambulance flight
Staff seeing the new helicopter for Haiti
Staff seeing the new helicopter for Haiti

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Raised flower beds for our rehab patients!
Raised flower beds for our rehab patients!

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!

Wheelchair Tennis starts at Rehab Unit
Wheelchair Tennis starts at Rehab Unit
Neuro-urology training with the Swiss Foundation
Neuro-urology training with the Swiss Foundation

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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

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