Haiti: Reconstruction of Physiotherapy Center and Orphanages

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan has been reconstructing orphanages and facilities for persons with disabilities in Haiti, which suffered catastrophic damage from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck the country on January 12, 2010. Chiaki FURUKAWA, AAR JAPAN staff in Haiti, reports on our activities.

Rebuilding Orphanages: Meeting Children’s Life Needs

La Main Tendre (“The Tender Hand”), an orphanage located in Port-au-Prince, was completely destroyed by the earthquake. By February this year, the building still had not been repaired, and approximately 30 children were living under tents made of blue tarps. The situation was critical, with toilets broken and mattresses resting on the floor, a 4-month-old baby among the children.
AAR JAPAN supported the reconstruction of this institution, completing the effort on June 30th, 2011. We also delivered beds, stationery and other goods needed for daily life, creating an environment where children could live and study at ease.

December 2nd, 2010 – La Main Tendre Orphanage before reconstruction: The facility was temporarily cobbled together from wood and plastic sheets.

Rosevaline (11) and Marie (11) have been raised in the orphanage. Their favorite place is the common space, where they usually sing and dance. They share a dream of becoming nurses.
Ronelda (9) entered the orphanage when she was only 2 years old. Before the building’s reconstruction, she used to sleep on a mattress on the floor, which she told us she didn’t like much. Now she is able to sleep on a clean bed, and she says it feels really good.

July 10th, 2011 – The newly-rebuilt La Main Tendre Orphanage

We did some origami on the day I visited the orphanage. When I made a few paper planes, the children came to me with bright eyes saying, “Make me one, too!” Soon the air of the common space was crowded with flying paper planes!
There are still many orphanages that have been seriously damaged by the earthquake. In addition to La Main Tendre, AAR JAPAN also assisted in the reconstruction of two other institutions: Foyer des Orphelins d’Haiti (“Home of the Orphans of Haiti”) and Orphelinat de l’Eglise Evangelique Source du Salut de la Nouvelle Jerusalem (“Orphanage of the Evangelic Church Fountain of the Health of the New Jerusalem”).

August 17th, 2011- From right: AAR JAPAN staff Chiaki FURUKAWA, Ronelda, Maryl, and Roseburry (pigtails).

July 9th – Foyer des Orpheilins d’Haiti before reconstruction (left), and a new bedroom in the institution (right).

July 7th, 2011– Orphelinat de l’Eglise Evangelique Source du Salut de la Nouvelle Jerusalem before reconstruction (left), and the inauguration ceremony for the new facility (right).

Rehabilitation for All

AAR JAPAN assisted in the reconstruction of the Center of Physiotherapy and Massage, as well as providing equipment needed for its operations. This facility is one of the few places in Haiti where people can undergo rehabilitation treatment. Before the earthquake, Ms. Michelle Bazelais, representative of the facility, used to receive and treat even patients who couldn’t afford to pay for the sessions.

After the earthquake, the facility was completely destroyed. Rehabilitation treatment didn’t stop, however; a temporary facility was organized and continued to function in the parking lot. After the earthquake, the number of patients who needed physiotherapy increased, but a great number of them couldn’t afford to pay for the treatment.

December 18th, 2011Center of Physiotherapy and Massage after the earthquake. Both the building and its equipment were heavily damaged.

The resumption of the facility’s full services was long awaited. AAR JAPAN started reconstruction of the facility in March 2011, completing the work in July, with new rehabilitation equipment installed as well.

In order to accommodate patients who live far from the facility, two sleeping rooms were also built. One such patient is Ms. Céline (60). She had a stroke after the earthquake, resulting in difficulty moving her whole body, which has required multiple rehabilitation sessions. Now she can come to the center early in the morning and spend the whole day exercising until her relatives come to pick her up around sunset. She told us that she is now able to rest in the sleeping room between the various physiotherapy sessions, so she can undergo treatment without any concerns.

August 10th, 2011AAR JAPAN delivers rehabilitation equipment to the newly-rebuilt Center of Physiotherapy and Massage (CPM)

August 16th, 2011- Ms. Céline (60) during a physiotherapy session in the newly-rebuilt Center of Physiotherapy and Massage (CPM)

AAR JAPAN is also currently assisting in the reconstruction of the Societé Haitienne d’Aide aux Aveugles (Haitian Society of Aid to the Blind). AAR JAPAN will continue to carry out projects for improving the livelihoods and educational environments of children, as well as assisting persons with disabilities.

Chiaki FURUKAWA, Haiti Office
Has been workin in the Haiti Office since October 2010. After graduation, worked at a human resources consultant agency, then went to the United Kingdom to obtain a master’s degree in International Development. After graduation she joined AAR JAPAN. (Born in Osaka)