Disability teaching in Haiti

Disability teaching in Haiti

A picture of a group of people standing “My hands and feet and voice can be borrowed by those who need them.”

These were the words of a nursing student at Providence University in Haiti during her group presentation in the course “Theology, Disability and Society”. This was the first course ever offered at the university on the topic of serving people with disabilities. Thanks to our generous donors, Christian Horizons Global has formed a partnership with the university, with this course in January our first joint project. 

Providence University is an independent Christian university educating students in fields such as Nursing, Teaching, Theology and Human Resources. Dr. Neil Cudney and I spent a week in January teaching and expanding on the idea of what it means to belong. We were grateful to the university leadership of Pastor Jean Marc Zamor for his vision of introducing this topic to his students.  A fresh perspective was both needed and well received, as evidenced by the student’s final presentations.  One student said:

“Previously I would not recognize [certain] people as part of my society. My eyes have been opened. All people have been created in the image of God. This course has taught us how to be with those who are disabled.  We cannot keep this knowledge to ourselves. I was afraid to touch people with disabilities because of fear of their curse. Now I have learned that it is [not dangerous] to touch. I have someone in my family that I will try to spend time with now.”

Another member of her group shared that she has a relative with a disability and that she was no longer afraid to come in contact with them and feels more comfortable telling others of their worth.

Learning the biological roots of the disabilities, what the Bible has to say about disabilities and interacting with those who experience these challenges on a daily basis had an impact on the students.

Students studying to become teachers told us of practical ways they learned to include all students: 

“We will not let a physical disability lead us to believe a child cannot learn. We will have new strategies to talk to parents of children with disabilities. Classroom set up can help those with disabilities. We can give the parents confidence that we can care for their child.” 

The teaching students, who are mostly learning to teach biology at the high school level, learned that they can teach the biological causes of many disorders to battle the idea that they are caused by voodoo or curses.

Nursing students shared how they were inspired to treat all people with respect and how they can encourage new mothers at the hospitals who have a child with a disability. Theology students shared with us how they can ensure that their congregations learn a proper idea of ways to treat those who experience disability.  

The seventh anniversary of the earthquake was during the week we were there teaching. Pastor Jean Marc and the staff held a service in memorial of the tragedy. He invited a medical doctor to share about the many people who acquired physical disabilities during the earthquake and the importance of supporting them in any way possible. This is a campus that wishes to change the culture and to teach that “all belong”. 

Dr. Cudney and I are privileged to be a part of their journey on behalf of Christian Horizons.  

 

Mark Wallace 

Director, Christian Horizons Global