Lawall’s Emily Woolston Volunteers in Haiti and Reflects on Her Experience
I was fortunate to share a week with the beautiful people of Cap Haitian, Haiti and learn more about their culture, health care, their development post earthquake, and begin to build a teaching relationship with the therapists and nurses at The Haiti Health Trust. The HHT is a 24/7 community healthcare clinic, cholera clinic, out patient therapy center for children with developmental disabilities and adults with stroke and spinal cord injuries. This hospital stands out because it also provides a loving respite center for children with developmental disabilities, a clean maternity ward, and the first ever spinal cord rehabilitation site. This is also the home and inspirational story of the Haitian Olympian, Leon Gaisli, who competed in the 2012 Special Olympics in London.
While orthotics and prosthetics are a very evident part of successful rehabilitation here in the United States, it is a missing part of THHT. I went with 2 duffel bags of previous worn and donated braces and various items such as donated shoes, straps, padding, scissors and a heat gun. Through the generosity of the families I work with here and Harry J Lawall and Son, I was able to provide bracing and shoes for 3 children and assist in one 10-month-old child connecting with a local prosthetist for his first prosthesis. This trip was not focusing on numbers of children being braced, but rather the relationships that bloom with learning and teaching for long-term success. I took significant time with the therapists and nurses, working with them to become familiar with bracing, comfortable with adjusting them, and ensuring they know the proper time and place for them. One important yet simple act was going through closets and trailers of donated items
and showing them the application and donning of things such as multi-podus boots, knee immobilizers, air casts, wrist splints, hemi-walkers, using ace wrap to facilitate hip and trunk stability for improved sitting balance with a few of the children receiving physical therapy. Something else that was shared was encouraging them to be creative, they truly care for their patients and have a solid base in which to grow from, but they may not have the confidence or experience to think outside the box. Hence the need for long-term goals focusing on teaching and relationships.
The Haiti Health Trust and Good Shepherd Rehab have a strong partnership and this will bring more opportunity and services to the hospital. I was thrilled to work closely with two wonderful Occupational Therapist from Good Shepherd, Andrea and Devon, and together we were able to join forces to provide custom splint making instructions and demonstration for both children and adults. One child received a custom elbow splint to protect her recent fracture and surgery; otherwise it was open and unprotected. It felt great knowing her healing fracture would be protected while she slept and returned to school.
I would like to thank my family for watching over my son, Maddox, while I was able to help a few children in Haiti and experience the joy of charity work. I would like to thank the amazingly supportive and generous company I love working for, Harry J Lawall and Son. They sponsored and allowed me to follow a dream, that is an incredible quality that reminds me how fortunate I am to work for this compassionate, family focused company. I would like to thank all the families who donated outgrown braces and shoes that provided an opportunity to walk and play on their playground. I would also like to thank my friends who donated jewelry for the spinal cord injury patients to make jewelry and sell for a source of income. Thank you to Carol VanArtsdalen for taking the time to discuss sustainable health care in developing countries which then directly led me to learning and experiencing Haiti first hand. I would like to thank the lovely and compassionate couple, Carwin and Renina Hill, as well as the inspirational Dr. Paul Toussaint, who followed their heart’s calling to raise health care standards beyond what the government could offer and create the Haiti Hospital Appeal and The Haiti Health Trust. Thank you to the entire group of talented and compassionate women and men both here in Pennsylvania and abroad for participating in all ways possible to promote “hope, joy, confidence, interaction and engagement with people with disabilities, and to be a blessing to the struggling people of Haiti.”
If you would like to support this incredible, sustainably, and focused organization you can follow them using the following ways:
Website Haiti Health Trust | empowering sustainable Haitian-led change
Haiti Health Trust | empowering sustainable Ha…
The Haiti Health Trust, Inc. (THHT) exists to be a blessing to the struggling people of Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere, just a short distance…
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