Team GB Paralympian visits HHA
In the last week we’ve had the privilege of welcoming one of Great Britain’s Paralympic hopefuls for London 2012 to our hospital in Haiti. Before becoming part of team GB, Anne Wafule Strike became the first wheelchair racer from East African to compete in the Paralympic Games in 2004 Yet, despite her recent success and fame, like many of the children we work with, her life began very differently.
Anne contracted polio as a young girl, which resulted in her family being driven from their community due to the stigma and abuse they faced. Anne explained to some of the families HHA support, that as a child people viewed her as ‘cursed or bewitched’, a reality that many of our children have faced. Over the last week, Anne has been sharing her story in communities across North Haiti, and encouraging our rehab patients and children at Maison de Benediction. She also managed to fit in some time to train alongside Haiti’s London 2012 Paralympic Team who came and spent the weekend at our hospital facility.
On the last morning Anne shared her thoughts from the trip… ‘This has been a very, very emotional trip coming to Haiti. Its been incredible. We’ve seen a lot of poverty. We’ve seen how people living with disabilities are greatly marginalised. This is a great year, the games are coming to London and we’re all excited, everyone’s talking about medals, but here is a community that cant even feed itself. This is a community that you drive around and see ten 8 year old boys walking naked because even basic clothes aren’t a priority for them. It’s been heartbreaking in most places, driving around and seeing how people with disabilities are greatly marginalised in their communities. They hardly have anything going for them. There’s no education, there’s no health facilities, there’s nothing like accessibility for people with disabilities in this country.
Its been a very powerful experience visiting HHA and seeing how the patients are being given a new lease of life. It’s also been a huge blessing spending time with the young kids at the children’s centre. The smiles on their faces touched me. It reminded me when I was young and in that situation and growing up with a disability. Somebody came to Africa and invested in me, and I am who I am today because of the sacrifices other people made. And its a challenge to me that we can all make a difference to these young lives.’
This year is the perfect year for people across the UK to celebrate the Paralympics, and also make a stand to support nations like Haiti. Perhaps you could run a fun sports related fundraising event at your school, work place or church to support our efforts, run a marathon, do a cycle ride, or become a regular donor in supporting our work in Haiti. Anne’s life was transformed through the ‘sacrifices other people made.’ Would you be willing to make a sacrifice this summer and help transform lives too? If so, we’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org