North Otago’s help for Haiti nearing an end


A project to create a physiotherapy school in Haiti, which has received strong North Otago support, has been a “brilliant” success, Oamaru resident Robyn Couper says.

Hearts and Hands for Haiti (HHH) – which was set up to provide aid after the January 12, 2010, earthquake with the help of North Otago residents including Miss Couper – has assisted in creating a physiotherapy school in the city of Cap-Ha├»tien.

A team of physiotherapists and doctors went to help in Haiti for the fifth year in a row and over the past three months, they taught an intensive practical physiotherapy component at the newly-formed school.

HHH team leader Miss Couper, who returned to Oamaru last week, said the programme had been such a success that United Nations development programme administrator and former NZ prime minister Helen Clark would be coming to Oamaru in August to talk about project.

The school opened in November last year and currently bhas 49 students taking a two-year course to become physiotherapists.

The programme has had help from HHH, the United Nations, the Evangelical Church of Haiti and the Haitian community and will take in about 60 students each year.

“I think it has been brilliant,” Miss Couper said.

She said they were currently operating in temporary facilities and had hoped to move into their new building, which was being refurbished by the United Nations, by March but delays meant it would not be completed until the end of May.

It would have been nice to have been there to see the building finished, she said.

The students were looking forward to being able to work in the building, once completed, as it would be specifically designed for the school, she said.

“I think it will be fantastic because it’s their building.”

She said HHH would return next year to teach the three-month component again for the last time, after which recent graduates would be picked to continue teaching that component.

Helen Clark will speak at an event at the Oamaru Opera House on August 25.



HELPING HANDS: HHH team leader Robyn Couper, with the t-shirt they wore at the school, returned from Haiti last week.

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