Trust planning $1.2m Haiti project

A North Otago trust's plans to create a physiotherapy training centre in Haiti will cost almost $1.2 million, but it is confident it can open the new facility early next year.

Project Hearts and Hands for Haiti (HHH) identified the shortage of physiotherapists as a major gap in the treatment of victims from the January earthquake last year and ongoing care of all patients in the Cap Haitien area of Haiti after sending medical teams into the area.

Those teams were led by Oamaru woman Robyn Couper, who had spent more than 30 years as a missionary in Cap Haitien.

The trust was set up last year to help the area using Miss Couper's knowledge and contacts.

That led to a visit by former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay to Cap Haitien where he identified a property that could be redeveloped into a physiotherapy training centre.

Trust chairman Bruce Albiston this week revealed the cost of the project - initially estimated as "approaching $US1 million ($NZ1.23 million)".

He said that was a very early estimate, but a reasonable order of cost to redevelop the property, provide the infrastructure, develop training programmes, employ staff and prepare for the first intake.

Applications for positions along with entry examinations were expected to take place in October or November, with training starting early next year.

Mr Albiston acknowledged that was an ambitious target, both in terms of cost and timing, but was confident it could be achieved.

He was hoping $100,000 towards the cost could be raised within North Otago and further funds generated from New Zealand organisations.

One national organisation had already expressed an interest in raising money, but he did not want to name it until it had confirmed it would be involved.

Money raised in North Otago and New Zealand would be used as seeding finance to get grants from international organisations, he said.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark has supported the project by addressing meetings in Oamaru on Wednesday night and addressing about 450 senior pupils from Oamaru's three secondary schools at Waitaki Boys' High School on Thursday.

In her role as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, she was asked by the Otago Daily Times on Thursday whether her department could help the Project HHH project.

Miss Clarke said the department would liaise closely with Project HHH and could indicate to it possible donors for the training centre.

The department had a representative in Haiti who would work with Project HHH in a facilitation and co-ordination role.



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