What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
In 1982, Peter Cunningham came to Haiti with a group of volunteers from San Francisco. They first worked at Mother Theresa's hospice in the La Saline slums of Port au Prince and later at a hurricane-destroyed Baptist mission and clinic called Siloé, located in Jacmel on the southeast coast. Doris Clark, who had been a Peace Corps volunteer working as a nurse in Cité Soleil joined the team in 1985. With the help of volunteers, the Siloé clinic and school were repaired and opened to the public.
Although Haiti experienced a period of political unrest after 1986, the Siloé volunteers continued their support. PAZAPA was established in 1987 with the purpose of helping children with disabilities who live in greater Jacmel and Haiti’s southeast.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
PAZAPA’s mission is to “support the treatment, education, and development of children with handicaps, and to integrate them into the community at-large.” In Haitian Creole, PAZAPA means "step by step," and, step by step, PAZAPA is making a difference in the lives of Haiti’s disabled children. Furthermore, by modeling and fostering acceptance of children with disabilities, PAZAPA is effecting systemic change in the treatment and education of, and Haitians’ attitudes towards, children with disabilities.
In Haiti, 95% of all schools are fee-based – even for the poorest of the poor. At present, there are between 500,000 and one million children and youth out-of-school because their families are unable to pay the fees, and an equal number are under constant threat of dismissal because their parents have trouble making regular payments. Furthermore, Haitian local schools do not accept children with disabilities. PAZAPA believes that children who live with a disability are educable and, with intervention, can grow up to become contributing members of society. Coupling a disability with lack of schooling severely limits a child’s potential to earn a living once s/he reaches adulthood. PAZAPA works with local school officials and village administrators so that children who live with a disability may enrol in their local schools.
Integrating a home-visit program for children who cannot attend school and strengthening the families of these children translates to ensuring that the weakest societal links will not break. In an already fragile society, strengthening the weak ultimately strengthens any community, strong communities make for a stable society and thus a viable economy and an even stronger country.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Through another organization or company
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