When a woman has a child is born, her life changes. When her baby is born with a disability, these changes are even more substantial. Especially in a very poor country such as Haiti where these children can just drop. But, in Haiti, is one organization that provides families means that parents loved these children and cared for them, and did not refuse.
No matter how strong the person’s belief, no matter how incorrigible optimist he was, but when the family a child is born with a disability, people often feel shock, despair and even start to doubt God. If that initial reaction passes, we understand that we live in a country where there are all conditions to ensure children with disabilities enjoy a full life, and their parents receive all the necessary support and knowledge to care for them. But what if a child was born in a country where you cannot find such support, no one will tell you what to do, and the parents remain in the dark?
“I care about him, and later he must begin to help me, to learn a profession, become a normal person, but it’s not okay,” says the father of a child with a disability.
In Haiti, it often happens that a child with a disability parents regard as a problem requiring a solution. They go to hospitals, trying to find a doctor who will make their child “like everyone else”.
“A month after birth, he started behaving normally, so I took him to the hospital where they gave me a prescription, — says the mother of a child with a disability. But I never could find him some medicine. I took him to Port-AU-Prince in search of a better hospital and stayed there with him. Son had to stay in the hospital for months. So it’s been two years, I spent a lot of money, and then realized that can’t do this anymore”.
Haitian doctors are often reluctant to tell the parents the truth, because you know what is likely to happen next.
“No doctor will want you to speak frankly because they know what a terrible situation in Haiti. If they tell parents the truth, they will certainly put children in the hospital or somewhere else. They no longer love their children,” says Papitto, the founder of the service “traces of the son.”
Papito knows firsthand about the problems of education in Haiti, a child with a disability. In 2009, his son, Christcare was born with severe cerebral palsy. Papito wife died in childbirth, leaving him to raise a tiny and incredibly sick boy. It took 2.5 years before Pepito learned how to him to take care of my son.
“I have never worked with his widowed father, until she met this man, who had his son two and a half years and did not want to give it to the orphanage. For him, it would be the easy way out. Many orphanages would accept the boy, because it is a single father, and Christcare a very serious disability. However Papito wanted to raise my son, raise him, care for him, to always be there for him and love him,” says Heather Mayer Gabo of service “traces of the son.”
Heather Mayer Gabo moved to Haiti in 2010 as a specialist in working with people with disabilities. She helped in an orphanage, when there came Papito in search of answers about his son. Together they began to seek opportunities for the provision of Christcare proper medical care, and so close, that in 2012 were married. Next year, wishing still further to show their love and care towards children with disabilities, they founded the organization “traces of the son.”
“Our mission is to teach parents to love their children, to help them and to do what they need,” says Papito.
“I believe our mission of rescue, especially for small children, babies we encounter. I understand parents who find themselves at a crossroads. They don’t know what to do with your child, and I feel that sometimes we contact them just in time before they lose all hope and fall into such despair, that will leave the child in the hospital or drop him off with grandparents,” says Heather Mayer Gabo.
The Haitian culture of voodoo often interferes with activities of Heather and Papito. This is because families often turn first for help to the voodoo priests because of their own convictions or under pressure from family.
“Sometimes relatives condemn those who do not want to do that. As a result, some of them amenable to persuasion, but when everyone can see that there is no response, they get discouraged. They realize that they have followed the wrong advice, and therefore return to us,” says Papito.
“When we meet them, we just try to help them: “Let’s all do it together. Let us educate your child. Let’s treat it. But most importantly, let’s create a family in which this child will be loved,” shares Heather Mayer Gabo.
“This process is sad to see and it is very slow. Takes a lot of time before parents stop trying to “fix” your child and its just starting to grow,” continues Papito.
This year for the “Footprints of the son” has entered a new phase. She has built a school, where they will receive an education, children with disabilities.
“This year we will open three classes. One class will be for children aged 2 to 3 years, although this does not mean that it will be only the children 2 or 3 years. Then we will open a class for children from 3 years up to 4 years. And then we have another unique class, also this year. It will be a so-called touch class. It is intended for children with severe forms of autism and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity,” says Heather Mayer Gabo.
Heather and Papito not going to stop there. Their land is still a lot of places, and they hope one day to collect children from the neighborhood.
“I’ve been dreaming about it since you arrived in Haiti to establish a school where they are trained like normal children and children with disabilities were that they were studying together in the same environment,” says Heather Mayer Gabo.
And while this dream is not fulfilled, Heather and Papito will continue to work among the children of Haiti with special needs, helping them to receive education, encouragement and support for one family for another.