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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rayjon Awareness Trip to Haiti
March Break 2016

Margaret's Blog- Day 7

Today we started with a visit to St. Damien's Pediatric Hospital.  First we took a look at the school and therapy centre for special needs children.  School was out but Collin gave us a very thorough tour and described what the centre does for the children.  The centre also provides therapy for adult stroke victims and we did see some of the children and adults that were receiving treatment. It is the only centre in all of Haiti that provides therapy for special needs children.  They also have a focus on training as none of the therapists have formal training since there are only a handful of physio therapists in all of Haiti and none have the training to work with these children.  So the centre trains and sends therapists away for training as well. Then we toured the pediatric hospital with a very enthusiastic and informative guide about the real challenges of parents of sick children.  He told us how care is free but parents are expected to contribute to care.  He also talked about how the hospital has limited facilities and has to triage the children to determine who they will treat but they also have to tell parents to take their children elsewhere when there is no more room.  We were struck by our guide's candor.  Mothers have to fight for healthcare for their children. Our guide also talked about how the hospital has to be careful about where they buy their medication and they have a lab to test medication to determine if it is fake if it is not working.

After St. Damien's we lightened things up by going to Croix des Bouquets to buy artifacts made out of oil drums for Rayjon's Women Helping Women event.  We all had a lot of fun bartering for the artifacts on our list.  We learned that Chelsea is the queen of bartering.  We finished off our shopping at the Apparent Project and Papillon Industries.  The project trains and employs Haitians to make jewelry out of clay beads and beads made out of recycled cereal boxes.  The project takes a holistic approach by employing caregivers in a day care for the workers' children as well as providing fair wages and good working conditions.  The philosophy of the project is to provide good employment so parents can provide for and keep their children rather than having to take them to the orphanage because they don't have the means to care for them.  In addition to jewelry, they also made pottery, stuffed toys and handbags.  We were able to tour the facility that was making the products and had a chance to purchase items in the boutique across the road.

This is the end of the blog for this trip. We are packing up ready to go home. We are all richer for having had this learning experience and are thankful to Rayjon and our trip leaders Joanna  and Lyndsey for making our trip truly memorable.

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