PAZAPA: 2010 In Review

  • Posted on: 9 January 2011
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities.  During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair.  PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes.  Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning.  Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes.  Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.      


Medical Services: PAZAPA continues to provide clinical evaluation, orthopedic, neurologic and plastic surgery, occupational and physical therapy, and rehabilitation for physically handicapped children.  PAZAPA continues its partnership with CURE International by casting and correcting free of charge all clubfeet patients under the age of two.  An average of 19 patients per month is covered by this program.  Local medical and international volunteers provide all treatment for the children with foot, knee and hip deformities.  Six surgical patients were treated in May 2010 by the Salva Vida Team lead by Dr Fred McGlynn. Cleft palate, and hydrocephaly are few and are sent to Healing Hands Haiti upon diagnosis for immediate treatment.  The staff nurse, Dr Rozan and the physiotherapy technician provide pre- and post operative care to ensure best results during and after treatment. PAZAPA provides, free of charge, medication to control epilepsy, arthritis and infectious bone disease as prescribed by local and international volunteer physicians. Currently there are no children receiving medication for arthritis or infectious bone disease.  The last neurology clinic was held by Dr Chris Miller in November 2009 for 20 patients.  There is a total of 23 children on seizure medication.  The nurse is also available for educating families about hygiene, birth control, immunization, reducing endemic problems of malnutrition, parasitic infections, HIV/AIDS and diseases caused by unsanitary conditions.  With the present Cholera epidemic, PAZAPA along with Plan Haiti and the Haitian Timoun Foundation, have done awareness training on prevention and care to all staff and students.


Special Education: With the devastating earthquake in January 2010, the school year was disrupted due to the building being severely damaged.   Thanks to the help of the Siloe Board, PAZAPA was able to purchase new land on which to operate.  The Center re-opened in May 2010 under temporary shelters provided by PLAN Haiti and the school activities continue to date under the same shelters as fundraising continues for the construction of a new building.  In an attempt to help the children cope with the traumatism of the earthquake, PAZAPA along with the Fédération Haitienne des Personnes Handicapées organized a Special Olympic themed summer camp.  We also had the pleasure of having the Surfari Team who painted the Center along with the kids making the school much more colourful and attractive to the eye!  They also took a few of the deaf kids surfing for a first time,  All these activities created many friendships and smiles.  The new School year was launched in October 2010 and the Center is currently providing  Special Education and therapy to children with developmental and mental challenges from infancy to late teens. It has a total of 103 children.  The school provides four levels of education: Early intervention (0-3 years) focuses on working with mothers and other care givers to ensure that stimulation therapy and socialization techniques are learned and carried out of the home. There are currently 21 children who regularly attend.  The early school level (4-10 years) emphasizes motor, language and social skills while helping children develop confidence in their abilities. A kindergarten level sign language class is offered to 6 children with a severe language or a hearing impairment.  The senior class continues the academic program, assisting those students who can manage a regular school curriculum to be “mainstreamed” in an afternoon public school program. Senior students, who have achieved the maximum academic level, are taught life skills, cooking (for home and commercially), sewing, carpentry etc either at the center or through an apprenticeship arrangement.  There are 5 hearing impaired young girls who are learning sewing at a local Professional School.  There are 3 young men, also deaf, who are interested in mechanics, carpentry and sewing however there are no professional schools willing to teach them locally.  The Center still remains focused on finding all alternatives available to teach and properly integrate these students.


Ten children with multiple, severe handicaps who are unable to attend the school, are enrolled in the home visit program and seen in their own house and community by PAZAPA teachers and visiting volunteers.  In September 2007, the dry food distribution normally donated to the home visit patients by Catholic Relief Services, was cancelled.  The PAZAPA monitors watched as these children got progressively worse.  They became severely malnourished and consequently unable to progress.  As a result, the parents became discouraged and lost hope in PAZAPA.  In May 2009, a meeting was held with all home visit parents in order to regain their confidence essentially.  Subsequently, requests for funding have been submitted and approved for the Home Visit Program.  We still await for these funds to arrive from Nourriture du Monde.  PAZAPA subsidizes boarding school for 1 visually impaired child at Ecole Saint Vincent of Port-au-Prince.  The Center also pays the school fees for 1 physically disabled girl who attends high school in Jacmel.  Unfortunately the Special Education Program has abruptly shut down until the New Year due to the violence resulting from the election results and the spreading of Cholera in the Jacmel area.  CASS had donated funds for a Christmas party which will still be held on December 21st.  All the children will receive a special meal and a gift.


School for the Deaf:  The PAZAPA School for the Deaf is in its fourth successful year.  Currently 30 children attend from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6.  We continue to be proud of our students’ success in the National Grade 6 exams.  This year 2 out of 2 students successfully passed! The major challenge has been finding professional or vocational training especially for the boys who have graduated.  No professional schools will accept them locally because of their impairment.


Family Support Programs: The staff at PAZAPA believes that the health and development of a child is closely related to the family’s economic status. Often the mother, obliged to be the sole caregiver for a handicapped child, is unable to work outside of home. Therefore, PAZAPA has facilitated small independent commercial ventures through business loans to families of PAZAPA children and also to senior students. This program has been re-launched in September 2009 with funds provided by the Canadian Association Step by Step.  A total of 20  parents and graduates are currently benefiting from this loan.  Previous programs have included a solar fruit-drying project; courses in sewing, pattern-making and cooking leading to a government recognized diploma; literacy and bookkeeping classes.  Thanks to the donations of the FCIL (Fonds Canadiens d’Investissement Local), we have launched a new project: the preparation of local goods such as peanut butter, jams and other baked goods for sale.  The income goes directly to the parents and graduated students who are part of the project.  This has been so successful that we have been unable to keep up with the demand!


Outreach: Although the Outreach Program has brought help to over 316 children in the rural areas, PAZAPA recognizes that this is the tip of the iceberg. With a population of close to one million in the South East approximately 70% live in isolated rural areas. Children who are educable are not accepted in local schools; children with operable or treatable orthopaedic problems, such as clubfeet, are obliged to live with a disability often limiting their potential to earn a living; those with cleft lip/palate must suffer a grievous disfigurement; deaf and blind are treated as burdens to their families. We are in a position to overturn this situation. With the help of CBM, PAZAPA will be able to re-energize the Outreach Program by educating the parents on disability and prevention.  The monitors will receive formal training.  The communities in general will benefit from the meetings, site visits, awareness conferences and forums.  Through our Outreach Initiative, PAZAPA can, with the support of the community, offer solutions for children with handicaps. Solutions will vary depending on local resources and the isolation factor. Since 2008, the PAZAPA Center now has a total of 6 Outreach locations with monitors and one Assistant to the Outreach Coordinator.  Triage clinics are still needed in these locations in order to identify children with special needs. The Monitors have been working closely with the parents groups and have identified areas that need improvement.  For example, educating new parents on the mission of PAZAPA and its outreach program: Identifying the children in their location in need of PAZAPA’s intervention (birth control, seizure medication, clubfeet, etc); Starting small community projects, incorporating both parents and challenged children, to generate income (fruit and vegetable growing, livestock raising, etc.)


Summary: PAZAPA has been a source of hope and help for handicapped children and their families since 1987. It has operated continuously through changes of government, provided special funds in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes and kept doors open during embargoes, political violence, international isolation and neglect. Now we can add that earthquakes haven’t set us off-track!  Numerous distributions have been made to all children and their families (tents, food, hygiene kits, clothing).  In spite of or perhaps because of these challenges, PAZAPA is recognized by supporters as a program unique and successful in Haiti.


How You Can Help:  PAZAPA would not be able to accomplish all it does without the generous contributions of time and talent by many dedicated volunteers. PAZAPA's network of volunteers ensures that its programs are sustainable on a shoestring budget.  There are many ways that you can be a part of this network including:


1) Medical and Surgical Care: PAZAPA welcomes volunteer paediatricians, surgeons, neurologists, rehabilitation specialists, and physical and occupational therapists.


2) Fund Raising: Hold a fund raising event in conjunction with your school, place of worship, community group, business, or Rotary Club. Since the earthquake in January, PAZAPA is also seeking funds to purchase property and build and equip a new facility.


3) Professional Development: Provide ongoing professional support for PAZAPA teachers and staff.


4) Administrative Support: Provide assistance with accounting, computer technology, video production, web design and maintenance, and other administrative functions.


5) Make a Financial Contribution: From the beginning, PAZAPA has depended on individual donors for the majority of our financial support. Generous gifts from these donors have enabled us to increase and train our staff, continue and diversify our programs, and extend our services to children in rural areas. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can donate online or mail a check to:



P.O. Box 447

Dexter, MI 48130

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