Wednesday, June 14, 2017


I had the wonderful opportunity in May of helping a special needs orphanage, New Life Children's Home in PAP area of Haiti, to start a therapy program for the 28 children that live with them. They had a PT coming I believe 1 day a week for the kids and in the last 6 months had hired a Rehab Technician that was part time. 

I got connected with New Life Children’s Home last year when I went to PAP to help lead a college therapy team from Indiana. We stayed at New Life’s guest house but did not work at their special needs home more than 1 afternoon and a Saturday. During that trip we traveled 2 hours each day to another special needs orphanage in another zone of PAP Haiti.  The orphanage we were going to had a well developed therapy program with 6 rehab technicians working there daily and regular American therapy teams coming to update their treatment plans and fix the children’s wheelchairs. They were even in the process of opening a special education school! During that week I know the entire team felt burdened knowing the children at New Life did not have daily therapy and we were going to someplace that already had a well developed program. I really challenged the team members that if they wanted to make a real difference in some children’s lives in Haiti that they needed to go back to the states and raise $ for a salary for a Rehab Technician to work at New Life. At the end of that week our translator who was also a Rehab Technician gave me his Resumee and said he was looking for a job. He was great with the kids and I think it helped the team knowing someone they could hire.  

Well they did!  The 2 leaders of the team Meg and Chelsea went back to the states and started fundraising. Last year God also brought a man to New Life who had a huge heart for the 28 special children at New Life. God had placed the same conviction on his heart that they needed therapy. Kevin set out to advocate for these children. He even made the 8-10 hour bus trip up to me at the Miriam Center to spend a few days learning and seeing what our programming was like. He was full of questions and so eager to learn. He also set out fundraising to hire a Rehab Technician. Between Kevin, Chelsea, and Meg they we were able to hire Jack about 6 months ago. He started out as part-time but as more $ was raised he become full-time. Jack is amazing with the kids. In the past 6 months he has gotten to know all 28 of those kids. He can tell what they want and need even though they can’t talk. He knows what they like and what they don’t like. You can tell he has gone above and beyond just doing therapy. 

Meg & Chelsea organized another trip to come back in this past May with therapy volunteers. Kevin also joined them and Ashley (an OT serving in Haiti), Erin (A PT serving in Haiti) and myself also joined them for the week. The goal of the week was to set Jack up to be successful. Bringing in supplies, evaluating and making treatment plans for the kids, fitting and making needed equipment, and educating the workers.  It was a crazy busy week. Lesson learned this is way to much work for 1 week! Lol. Realistically to do this well you need 2-3 weeks. We were pulling super long days and only getting a few hours of sleep per night. But those of us living in Haiti new that if we did not get to a certain point nothing would be sustainable. So we powered through. It is rewarding to now look back and see the difference a week  can make. 

We split into groups of 2-3 and each set out to evaluate 4 of the children. We tried to spend 1-2 hours with each of the kids.  Really get to know them. We Also tried to take pictures of the children in different positions that were good for them to work in. One of the things I learned over the years in developing my program up North was that pictures go much farther then words. Haitians are better able to follow treatment plans when in picture form. The ultimate goals of evaluating was to make picture treatment plans to leave with Jack to help him provide specific therapy for each child.  Jack was able to go around to each group and observe, ask questions, answers questions we had about kids, etc. The whole day Jack just kept saying Thank You! For week before we came Jack was texting me how excited he was to have a therapy group come and help him. 

They brought so many donations and supplies in!


We focused on fitting AFO’s for kids, Making Hand Braces, and Assessed each kids in their wheelchair and wrote down what adaptations needed to be made. In 1 day we made 28 custom hand splints, fit 21 pairs of AFO’s, and evaluated all 28 kids in their wheelchairs. 

DAY 3 & 4
Was focused on building equipment and fixing/adapting wheelchairs to make sure all the kids had optimal seating based on the resources we had. 

We had many many late nights working on writing up the evaluations, working on adapting wheelchair and building adaptive equipment. 

I was only at New Life for 1/2 a day and so it was super busy trying to finish everything off before hitting the airport to head to the Staes for 4 weeks of traveling and speaking. We organized a cabinet full of Therapy supplies for Jack. Organized the hand braces and foot braces into cubby system under the bathing area so that the braces could be put on after bath time. We attached photos and names to each wheelchair to assist the staff in making sure the kids were placed in the correct wheelchairs.   Each evaluation group worked on reviewing their evaluations and recommendations with Jack (The Haitian Rehab Tech). I also had a meeting with the other Haitian Staff. Was able to encourage them with a Bible Study, Explain the vision & dream for therapy for the kids and what role they could help play. It was a great time together. The workers really like the Bible study that talked all about how different God sees us than the world sees us. 

The whole team :-) Minus Lori :-(

Kevin (A Huge Advocate for these kids)
Ashely- an OT working at Respire Haiti
Erin- a PT working in Santo 19

Demonstrating how we attached each child's picture to their wheelchairs. 

The cabbies with the hadn't and foot braces.

I spent a lot of time trying to build a repeour with the Haitian workers “the kids momma’s.” Educating them is crucial but what is even more crucial is them knowing that I am not just some American coming in trying to change everything. I needed them to know my story. Know that It has taken me 10 years to learn what works and what doesn’t. I needed them to know that I know how hard day to day life is.  I wanted them to know that I know they are over worked… 3-4 moms to 28 kids. I know how hard it is to care for 28 special needs kids because I have 32 that live with us at the Miriam Center… I know the struggles of kids not wanting to keep diapers on…playing in their poop… always wanting to put things in their mouth… I understand how draining and hard it is to bathe and feed these kids multiple times per day…. I would spend time in the evenings sharing stories about my kids and sharing how similar some of my kids were to theirs. I also spend time sharing about my staff. I tried to encourage them… And by the end of the week they accepted me to educate them on a small part they can play in helping the kids by after bath time each morning putting on their foot braces and hand braces and putting the kids in the right chairs. I worked hard to make this process as simple as possible by attaching laminated pictures of the kids to the wheelchairs. 

Jack the AMAZING Rehab Tech working at New Life

Since March New Life has 6 new children with special needs that have come to live at the center. They have 38 kids now. They recognize the need for more therapy help. New Life is currently fundraising to hire 2 more Rehab Tech staff. The hope to hire by end of June but due to funding we have pushed back till July or August. The plan to to model off of the Miriam Center Therapy program. I performed interviews on 7 rehab technicians and 2 have been chosen who will be a great addition to New Life. I look forward to coming back to PAP sometime in the next few months to help create a therapy routine and orient the new therapy staff. Please join me in praying that funding will come soon! These children really need therapy and Jack really needs help in order to provide these kids with what they need. I am EXCITED to help this organization being able to provide therapy and special education services to their children. 

No comments:

Post a Comment