Blog

Apr
16

Tennis in Haiti

We’ve had a lot going on recently, so I will try and find a place to begin.  I guess as good a place to start as any is with the weekend we’ve just had, where we were joined by some members from the International Tennis Federation! Tennis I hear you say? But you support a hospital? Why would you have a tennis federation come to support you?! Well, let me explain..

One of our greatest passions here is supporting and enriching the lives of those with disabilities.  For those of you who may not be aware (and if you’re not, where have you been?!) we have an inclusive sports centre connected to our rehabilitation centre, a place for our rehab patients (as well as people from the community) to come and either work with a physical therapist on specific exercises, or to come and work out, to spend time with friends, and engage in sports.  Wheelchair sports are a bit of an alien concept in Haiti, where a person with a disability is seen as worthless and unable to do anything for themselves.  How are they supposed to be able to compete in sports?

That’s where the International Tennis Federation comes in.  They’re reason for choosing Haiti as a country to develop tennis in is two-fold; firstly, tennis is a completely bizarre concept in Haiti (the first time we put the net up we were asked whether the point of the game was to hit the ball into the net!?) and secondly, they wanted to fight against the stigma shown to people with disabilities.   

Armed with equipment including rackets, tennis balls, nets and some games to help with hand eye coordination, they arrived early Saturday morning ready to introduce tennis to our rehab guys.  The Haitian tennis federation also joined us and the day became an integrated session – what a joy to watch able and disabled players playing alongside each other.  Seeing people’s perceptions towards those in wheelchairs change throughout the day as they saw how capable they were of playing (and playing pretty darn well!) was fantastic. 

In spite of the hot weather (seriously, it’s getting way too hot nowadays..) a good crowd turned out and we hope to continue working with the tennis federation in Haiti to build up wheelchair tennis.  To give our guys a chance at a new sport and to show to everyone that disability is not inability. 

Here a just a few photos from the weekend for you to enjoy..

Blessings.. Laura.

 

Mar
29

What is a mother?

With a google search and a quick click of a button we can find a few definitions of what a mother is.  Firstly, the definition of a mother is;

‘a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth’

I imagine that this would be most people’s response to this question.  It is, biologically speaking, the definition of a mother.  It is the kind of relationship we strive to support through our Maison de Benediction programme, keeping mums and children together.  For example, meet Samuel and his mum.  Without writing a 3 page essay about their background, Samuel became separated from his mother and ended up in a centre for people without families.  When his mother discovered this (having thought he had been taken to another city in Haiti with other family members) she did everything she could to get him back.  This included leaving her home and her partner behind, who did not want her to bring her disabled son home.  Against all odds, Samuel and his mother were reunited, and now spend all day together, thanks to his mum now joining us as a member of staff at our Maison de benediction, helping to support Samuel and other children. 

 

The second definition is not a biological one.  It describes a mother as being someone who..

‘brings up a child with care and affection’, or someone who ‘looks after someone kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so’.     

This lady completely sums up this second definition.  This little girl has cerepal palsy.  She was abandoned.  We don’t know for what reason, or under what circumstances, but she needed help.  This incredible lady, through the support of the Maison, is her new foster mum.  Every day, she sits at her side in the pediatric unit, speaking to her, praying with her, feeding her, holding her.  She is a fighter, and has a new found lease of life because of this selfless woman.  Taking on a child who is not ‘biologically’ her own is a huge undertaking, and one she has embraced with open arms.

 

Alongside Konbit Sante and The Haiti Health Trust, we have launched a new campaign, Haiti: Make Births Safe (healthybirthing.org), drawing together to support Haitian healthcare facilities and community interventions to provide mums and babies with safe births.  This mother’s day, why not consider supporting this new campaign and support new mums in Haiti (whilst also giving yourself, or your mum, the chance to visit the Downton Abbey set and hang out with Lady Edith herself..pretty cool eh?!)

OH.. and don’t forget to do something a little special for the ‘mother’ in your life this mother’s day!

Blessings,

Laura

Mar
05

Accessibility, Independence & Acceptance.

These are all qualities that we take for granted every day.  We don’t have to think about how we get from A to B.  We don’t have to worry about someone helping us with the everyday activities.  We don’t have to worry about being stared at for being ‘different’.

Each week, a central part of our work here in Haiti is supporting a respite centre for children with severe disabilities.

Providing the children with specialised care whilst allowing the parents time to work and rest from the 24/7 caregiving that comes with having a child with a disability.  So, a couple of weeks ago was SO exciting for us.

We were incredibly blessed to have Team Canada Healing Hands come and support us, along with other organisations in the North of Haiti, by providing us with specialised, custom fit wheelchairs for each of our children who have mobility problems.  The incredibly dedicated team worked with immense fluidity and adaptability to distribute the 100 chairs, when faced with the challenges that working in a country like Haiti can throw at you at the last minute.

Our children used to share an assortment of strollers, used almost solely for the purpose of transporting them.  But now, EACH of our

children has their own specialised chair, fitted to their exact size and posture.  As just one example, meet little Dlobany.  He is the son

of one of the cleaners at the hospital.   Until this week, he spent most of his time in a communal stroller, or laying out on one of the beds.  Now, he sits up proud in a chair that fully supports his torso and will give him a much better chance at gaining strength through his torso and back to be able to sit up independently in the future.

 

 

It is amazing to see what a difference something so seemingly ‘simple’* as a wheelchair can do.  But to see first hand the intricacy and love that went into measuring, designing, building and fitting each of those 100 chairs, there are really no words.  Our children now have a new chance at accessibility, independence and acceptance.

*I say simple as up until that week I had no idea just how complex and intricate wheelchair designing and fitting was!

Blessings,

Laura

Feb
20

A Playground and a funeral

I’ve just returned from another extraordinary 4 weeks in Haiti, and am left wondering how to fit all the updates into one blog.

This trip saw the completion of a number of long term dreams for our team.  Read more »

Feb
11

A different perspective

With UK staff back on the ground in Haiti, it’s straight back to work and welcoming a year full of new volunteers who tirelessly support our work.  So, we thought we’d mix up how we update our blogs, by getting some of them to write about their experiences working in Haiti with HHA.  Read more »

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