Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rare reprieve for Haiti's disabled slated to end - Haiti - MiamiHerald.com

"Let's build a Haiti
accessible for everyone:
handicapped or not!"
I've been encouraged since the earthquake at the progress being made towards accessibility in Haiti.  Finally, I thought.  It's been a long time since Sr. Joan started, St. Vincent's, the first school for the disabled.  It's still going strong following the earthquake despite the loss of all but the boys' dorm building (if I understand correctly).  I was there in November for the Journee Internationale des Personnes Handicapees; it was a wonderful celebration.  In fact, I took quite a few notes and intended to write a blog post about it.  The best laid plans...

bulletin for the celebration at St. Vincent's

However, I've just read an article that makes me very sad:

Rare reprieve for Haiti's disabled slated to end - Haiti - MiamiHerald.com

Here is an excerpt:

Life has never been easy for the disabled in one of the world's poorest countries. The blind and deaf and amputated often shoulder a social stigma, their disabilities dismissed as the product of a hex, and few have access to physical therapy or social services. Haiti's disabled make up the poorest part of its population.

Inside the settlement's enclosing chain-linked fence, the residents say they no longer endure the long stares for losing their vision, hearing or a limb.

Claudius Joseph, a blind 25-year-old student, says his teachers believe he can't learn because he can't see. Children, he says, are afraid to touch him.

"I feel normal here because there are other people who are handicapped just like me," Joseph said one evening as his cane tapped the gravel in front of him.

The camp, near Port-au-Prince's international airport, is called "La Piste" because of an abandoned military airstrip across the street. It was set up by the International Federation for the Red Cross, which built 368 shelters for the hearing and speech impaired and others with disabilities. The first families moved in Jan. 7, 2011, days before the anniversary of the earthquake, and each received $150 to help settle in.

Its current residents are a mix of people disabled by traumas or infections caused by the quake and those whose conditions preceded it.

The Red Cross says it signed an agreement with the previous administration of President Rene Preval to use the land until January 2013. Officials with President Michel Martelly's government say they want the land back and the residents need to leave.

"The land is not theirs and the owner wants it back," said Gerald Oriol Jr., Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities. He declined to say who owned the land and referred questions to a foreign charity worker helping the deaf residents. "Within six to nine months they should move out."

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/05/2676091/rare-reprieve-for-haitis-disabled.html#storylink=cpy

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