Haiti relief group dissolves

United Nations volunteer Pauline Penny (left) and a chief driver for the Hearts and Hands for...
United Nations volunteer Pauline Penny (left) and a chief driver for the Hearts and Hands for Haiti project Robyn Couper. Photo: Shannon Gillies.
The people behind the North Otago charity set up to help the people of Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake have announced the organisation will dissolve.

The closing of Hearts and Hands for Haiti, an emergency relief project created to establish a physiotherapy training programme in Haiti, was announced at a recent meeting at the Salvation Army Hall.

Oamaru woman Robyn Couper, a former missionary and a chief driver for Hearts and Hands, said she was happy to see the project end.

Hearts and Hands for Haiti worked with the Evangelical Church of Haiti to create a physiotherapy school, opened in 2013, and a physiotherapy clinic, due to open next month.

The group’s initial response to the quake was to send a medical team to the city of Cap-Haitien.

Miss Couper said the decision to fund physiotherapy projects came out of discussions with local people about what they wanted.

The school runs on fees paid for by students to allow it to be self-sufficient.

Miss Couper said in a thank-you speech given last Sunday it was important for the charity and its backers that the project be for, run by, and financed by Haitians.

She was exhilarated by what the charity was able to do with the support of North Otago.

Most of the $379,000 raised by the group came from North Otago people.

"We’re proud of what we’ve done."

Sometimes aid groups set up projects in a country, but fail to get community buy-in so when those project leaders left, their initiatives fall apart, she said.

What was different with the physiotherapy school and clinic was they were resources the community wanted, she said.

"We have left a legacy."

United Nations volunteer Pauline Penny, who helped negotiate some of the United Nations’ bureaucracy, said the people of North Otago should be really proud of Hearts and Hands for Haiti.


Add a Comment