Springfield College Students Volunteer in Haiti

SPRINGFIELD — Dawn Roberts, professor of Physical Therapy at Springfield College, and a group of nine physical therapy students took part in a global health-service trip to Haiti on March 14-18. Roberts and the students spent their spring break as volunteers at the Haitian Foundation of Rehabilitation (FONHARE) clinic located in the town of Ouanaminthe.
“Once again, we went out into the local community to perform home assessments and to work with families on home modifications and family training to improve access to the community for individuals with disabilities,” said Roberts, who also supervised a trip to Haiti in 2015. “Students provided evidence-based assessment and interventions for a variety of pathologies alongside local Haitian clinicians with the goal of expanding the skill set of the Haitian therapists. This was a great experience for Springfield College students, who learned while working side by side with clinicians at FONHARE.”
The Springfield College contingency was invited for the second consecutive year by Dr. Ivens Louius, founder and director of FONHARE and a trained physical and occupational therapist, following multiple years of relationship building between Roberts; Dr. Julia Chevan, chair of the Springfield College Physical Therapy department; and professionals at the clinic.
“Two years ago, both Dawn and I were in Haiti during the spring-break week developing relationships with Haitian rehabilitation professionals,” said Chevan, adding that thius year’s trip was the capstone for Roberts’ spring “Global Health Service Experience” course. “For the enrolled students, this is an opportunity to gain an understanding of global health and the implications of living in the United States, which is generally an over-resourced healthcare culture, in contrast to Haiti, one of many under-resourced cultures.”
FONHARE is a grass-roots Haitian nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliation that is dedicated to providing integrated physical and cognitive rehabilitation services to children and youth with disabilities in the northern region of Haiti, especially those with a poor quality of life living with limited resources, regardless their socioeconomic condition. FONHARE is the only organization providing rehabilitation services in the northeast of Haiti to 13 cities with almost 500,000 citizens.

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