Haiti Day 3: Outreach Update Part I (Christian views on disability)

June 22, 2010

Pazapa began operating in 1987.  Since that time, the community of Jacmel has learned more about children with developmental disabilities.  We spoke with Jean Joseph Forgeas, the administrator of Pazapa.  Nicknamed Tijo, he has been involved with the program since 1999.  They began seeking children for the school by asking local churches if they knew of children with disabilities in their congregations.  At first, few families admitted to having children who needed a special education. Some parents would say they had two children, when they actually had a third child at home with disabilities.

At first, if parents came forward to Tijo about a child with disabilities, they would go to his house.  Tijo would then tell the parents to bring their child to Pazapa.  However, many of the parents would not bring their children to Pazapa, as they did not want to be seen going there.

Now, Pazapa has changed the attitude of Jacmel toward people with disabilities!  All people, whether rich or poor, are no longer ashamed to bring their children to Pazapa.  They are excited for what Pazapa has done in their community.

During our visit, the children at Pazapa had their singing time and writing class.  During singing time, the children gathered under a shade tree.

During writing class, the children practiced tracing their vowels.  The teachers had passed out crayons and paper, with examples of the letters written on the board.  We got to sit with the students and show them how we wrote our names.

It was encouraging to see the happy faces of the children in the midst of the hardships we’ve seen during our trip.