News & Events

Belize Mission 2013

This was the second TCHH mission to Belize, working with local partners CARE Belize, National Resource Centre for Inclusive Education (NaRCIE), St. Peter’s School and World Pediatric Project to provide rehabilitation services and training. Team members included 6 occupational therapists, 3 physiotherapists, 3 speech language pathologists, a nurse, autism specialist and seating technician.

Project Objectives and achievements were as follows:

1. Provide basic training in the treatment of autistic children to parents, teachers and care givers.

a. A three day workshop was completed in Belize City, and then repeated in Orange Walk Town and Punta Gorda. Approximately 65 people participated, and almost 40 children were individually seen to assist in setting goals and develop treatment plans.

b. Meetings were held with NaRCIE and CARE Belize to discuss future plans for management of the autistic population of Belize.

2. Provide wheelchairs and specialized seating to children who had been identified as in need.

a. Completed a seating and mobility clinic in Belize City and community visits in the city as well as in the districts. A total of 17 children were provided with either a wheelchair or specialized seating.

b. Identified a potential seating technician who could be trained during future missions.

3. Provision of Speech Language Pathology services.

a. Provided SLP services as part of the Autism workshop.

b. Two additional SLP therapists provided assessment and treatment planning services for over 50 children and adults in Belize city and three districts.

c. Meetings were held with the Cayo Deaf Institute and the teacher of the deaf at Stella Maris School to plan for future needs.

d. As there are no current SLP services, education was provided to individual parents.

4. Provide physiotherapy and occupational therapy services as part of a post orthopedic surgery clinic, spina bifida clinic, and outreach visits with CARE Belize.

a. Over 85 children were seen by occupational therapy and physiotherapy at the Karl Heusner Medical Hospital, plus an additional 40-45 children and adults were seen through community clinics and home visits in Belize City, Orange Walk, Cayo, and Toledo districts.

b. Wherever possible, a therapy technician or CARE Belize field officer assisted with the assessment and treatment planning to ensure carryover.

We would like to extend a special thank you to all of our donors for the Belize mission, in particular Blake Scott of CAN Med Healthcare/Harding Medical, Lawton's Home Health, and Sandi Kirschner for their very generous donations to this mission.

Lawton's Home Health Medichair

Joshua's New Wheelchair

Little Joshua is an 8 year old boy who was born with Spina Bifida and severe hydrocephalus. He is very vibrant and enjoys singing songs that he has learnt at school. Joshua had little mobility and could not enjoy the joys of being outside and interacting with his peers because he did not have a wheelchair. With the collaboration of Healing Hands of Canada and WPP he was measured in January 2012 and at our Spina Bifida and Urology Mission in May of this year fitted with his very own customized wheelchair.  The smile on Joshua’s face when he was placed in his wheelchair was priceless. He kept going around the room saying “vroom …vroom” as though he was in a car. Joshua’s new found mobility will enable him to maximize his capacity for social functioning in a way that was never possible before.
- Khandice Tillett, World Pediatric Project

Belize Mission May 2012 - Team Canada Healing Hands completed it's first working mission in Belize from 5 to 18 May 2012. The goal of this trip was to develop working relationships with a number of agencies in Belize to further rehabilitation services for the country. This was overwhelmingly achieved with the groups we set out to work with: World Pediatric Project, CARE Belize, and Project Hope. We also worked with the teachers at Stella Maris School, the National Resource Centre for Inclusion in Education (NaRCIE), and St. Peter’s school. Feedback from all groups was very positive and we look forward to going back again.

The primary activities were:

  • Participated in a 3 day pediatric clinic along with a urology team and orthotics team – this included assessments and providing consultation to parents
  • Provided 2 caregiver schools to CARE Belize, teachers at Stella Maris and NaRCIE
  • Worked with CARE Belize RFOs doing field visits, and the physiotherapists at the hospital seeing individual patients
  • Consulted with teachers at Stella Maris and St. Peters schools regarding general strategies and specific children in their classes
  • Signed an MOU with CARE Belize for us to provide training of their staff and assist with planning for their “Inspiration Centre”
  • Delivered three wheelchairs that were measured in January
  • Worked with Project Hope providing orthotics and prosthetics services
  • Karen did a full day visit to the Cayo Deaf Institute to consult with the teachers.

April 2012 - A message from Gail Buck in Haiti: "Dear Healing Hands for Haiti volunteers and friends, It is with a very heavy heart that I write this message. Our long time driver, Jorel has had a stroke last saturday and will no longer be able to drive for us."
If anyone is interested in making a contribution to a fund for Jorel, please contact us.

January 2012 - The year started out with a successful fact finding mission to Belize, and now planning for our first full mission in May 2012.

In Haiti, among other activities, a team visited Kay Angel in Jacmel where they provided Martin, a little boy TCHH has been working with for a number of years at Pazapa, with a new wheelchair and Pony Walker! Great job team! The following blog from a group in Holland describes the event... if you can read Dutch!


TCHH Annual General Meeting took place on 27 September 2011 via webinar and teleconference. Click here to see a slide show of the meeting proceedings (20.5M), and meeting minutes.

July 2011 - WHO releases First Ever World report on disability. This report hold valuable information about people with disabilities all over the world, what their needs are, and the reources required to address their needs.

12 January 2011 - Global National: Haiti One Year Later

Edmonton Eskimos help Haiti a year after devastating earthquake - Brittney LeBlanc, iNews, describes the Huddle for Haiti, CFL football players who visited the Healing Hands Clinic

Huddle for Haiti: Day 7, Part 1 - Rob Vanstone, Leader Post

5 January 2011 - One year after the tragic earthquake: “Haiti’s Agony” premieres on Saturday, Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on CTV. Can also be seen on demand on the CTV News Video Player at

3 December 2010 - Clearing a Path for People Living with Disabilities in Haiti - International Organization for Migration

10 November 2010 - Step by Step in Haiti - A story about one of our partners Pazapa, located in Jacmel. - Brian Hatchell, CBM Emergency Communications Coordinator

3 October 2010 - Eight months after the earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Colleen O'Connell speaks with David Enright on CBC Sunday Edition about the progress made and ongoing challenges in Haiti in this podcast.

Rehabilitating Haiti - The Physiatrist - Volume 26, No. 7 September 2010
As physiatrists, our professional focus is really upon the human condition, not just the left elbow or the L4-5 disk. The media coverage of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti brought into sharp focus the human devastation caused. The physiatric community has responded with volunteers who have given generously of their time and knowledge in medical areas that were in desperate need of this knowledge. Here are some of those stories, about colleagues of whom we can well be proud.

28 September 2010 - Local nurse to lend healing hand in Haiti - Melissa Smalley - Peace Arch News, British Columbia

Friday, October 15th at 7:00 pm
HAITI EARTHQUAKE FUNDRAISER with featured artist: Laine Henderson
Slainte By the Pier-15057 Marine Drive, White Rock,BC

Saturday, October 23 at 7:00pm - October 24 at 12:30am
Fundraiser Dance
Acton Legion, 15 Wright Avenue, Acton, Ontario

September 6 - Haiti quake survivor returns home after 6 months - Lindsey Tanner - Associated Press
Colleen O'Connell assisted in the evacuation of this man to Chicago after the earthquake in January.

August 8, at 4 p m
Fundraiser concert featuring:
- International saxophone recording artist: Dave Mclaughlin
- Renown vocal recording artist: Norwill Simmonds
- Classical concert pianist: Deon Flash
Willowdale SDA church
535 Finch Avenue West,Willowdale, Ontario M2R 3C2
Ticket price $20
100% of proceeds will go towards team canada healing hands inc
For more info, feel free to contact us at

Haitian Quake Survivor Recovers From Spinal Injury - Roseanne Tellez, CBS Chicago - Dr. O'Connell was part of the team that helped get Suy to Chicago

Ten spinal cord injury and complex rehabilitation specialists to go to Haiti - The Canadian Medical Foundation

Healing Haiti - An Earthquake Relief Fundraiser
Focusing on Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Where: Greenfield’s Pub – 900 Greenbank Road Ottawa
When: May 30th, 2010, 3:00-11:00 pm
Cost: Adults - Advanced tickets $10 ($15 at the door) Children $5

Please join us in raising awareness and funds for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Haiti. 100% of the proceeds raised will go directly to Haiti through Team Canada Healing Hands. The event will have something for everyone including a magic show and great local bands.

Luc Leduc-The Duke of Magic will begin at 3:30.  He will be followed by Shotgun in the Ambulance, Monday I Retire, EFarm & Ridin' Shotgun

There will be munchies and drinks as well as a 50/50 Draw and a Silent Auction with great items including:
WestJet flight passes for 2 anywhere they fly, 100 level Sens vs Habs - 2010-2011 season, Jewelery provided by the Art of Jewels, Rideau View Golf & Country Club - Gift certificate for golf, Haitian Art and more….

Please visit our Facebook link for complete list of auction items as well as updates on our fundraiser.

For information on tickets, donations or contributions to the silent auction contact  Karen Mallet or David Nielen.

10 May 2010 - Long term solutions needed to resolve rehabilitation crisis in Haiti: Canadian physiotherapists playing key role in crisis and forward-planning - Canada NewsWire

4 May 2010 - Here is a blog by the team from the Tornonto Rehabilitation Centre working with people with Spinal Cord Injuries in Cap Haitian. We hope to continue this project over the next few months, or as long as we are needed.

1 May 2010 - Medical professionals challenged to help heal Haiti's wounded - By Don Lajoie - The Windsor Star

29 April - Rehab Medicine Team Witnesses Changing Attitudes toward Disability in Haiti -

The biggest thing Haiti needs right now is not to be forgotten - Molly Rossiter - Gazette Online

26 April 2010 - Amputees become Haiti's ambassadors - Catherine Porter - The Toronto Star

3 April 2010 - A note from St. Boniface Hospital

7 April 2010 - Still invisible: Persons with disabilities in post-quake Haiti - By Cassandra Phillips, Steven Estey and Mary Ennis, FOCAL Point: Canada's Spotlight on the Americas, April 2010, Volume 9 , Issue 3. Canadian Foundation for the Americas

2 April 2010 - Helping In Haiti: Caring For The Newly Disabled - By Sacha Pfeiffer

17 March - Healing Hands makes difference in Haiti - By Christina Spencer

15 March - Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti discusses Disability Legacy of the Haitian Earthquake - By Lisa I. Iez­zoni, MD, MSc; and Lau­rence J. Ronan, MD, Annals of Internal Medicine

9 March 2010

Reconstructing Haiti: a Rehabilitation System for All Disabled Haitians

Haiti is not very hospitable to its disabled, not to the 8% with mental, physical and sensory disabilities before the January 12 earthquake, much less to the hundreds of thousands who suffered amputations and disabling injuries in the earthquake and its aftermath. Haiti has few rehabilitation professionals of its own. Most importantly, it lacks a nation-wide system for rehabilitative care.

Many developing countries have dealt with scarcities of professional rehabilitation therapists by setting up systems of community based rehabilitation (CBR) in which individuals from each village or neighborhood (often family members of the disabled) are trained to provide basic rehabilitation services and support. CBR has been championed by David Werner, Brian O’Toole and others, and it has been shown to be effective in studies of preschool disabled children and adult stroke patients. Examples of CBR programs are those of the Three D Project in Jamaica, Los Pipitos in Nicaragua, and the Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation.

But CBR programs are neither a cheap nor an easy fix - they require extensive community-by-community organizing, initial and ongoing training, and resources to pay modest salaries for the CBR workers. Especially with Haiti’s huge numbers of complicated injuries, it is essential that CBR be tightly linked to regional centers in which rehabilitation experts develop an initial care plan and provide ongoing supervision to the CBR workers. Such programs need consistent, long-term funding and partnerships with public sector health and social service systems.

Haiti has the beginnings of such an approach - but just the beginnings. One of Haiti’s few CBR programs is run by PAZAPA - a Haitian NGO based in Jacmel on Haiti’s southern coast, which focuses on children with developmental and orthopedic disabilities. Healing Hands for Haiti has a rehabilitation center and a prosthetics workshop producing artificial limbs in Port-au-Prince (both were severely damaged in the earthquake but are now reorganizing) and funnels international rehabilitation specialists to Haiti. After the earthquake, an array of international NGOs responded, bringing in rehabilitation specialists and material aid. Handicap International is providing direct rehabilitation services and aftercare guidance for families, as well as helping coordinate overall rehabililtation efforts as part of a UN-organized Injury, Rehabilitation and Disability Working Group which includes representatives of the Haitian government’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) and the Secretariat for the Integration of People with Disabilities led by Dr. Michel Pean (SEIPH). Promisingly, this working group is not only addressing short-term rehabilitation efforts, but is also charged with developing a physical disabilities component to Haiti’s National Reconstruction Plan, with MPHH and SEIPH playing central roles.

While positive, these efforts will themselves not lead to a national rehabilitation system. Such a system will need strong central coordination. Historically, the Haitian government has been weak and largely overshadowed by what Tracy Kidder (New England Journal of Medicine 2/17/10) has termed a “parallel government” of NGOs. This situation is exacerbated by how social programs are funded: international donors, seeing the Haitian government as ineffectual and corrupt, insist on channeling aid to NGOs, earmarked for specific aid projects and not for funding long-term core operations. This creates a ‘Catch-22’ situation in which it is almost guaranteed that government entities that should be leading the way such as the Secretariat for the Integration of People with Disabilities and the Ministry of Public Health are underfunded and sidelined.

Haiti is now at a critical juncture. A confluence of conditions opens possibilities for significant change in the organization of human services. The earthquake and its aftermath have clearly highlighted - in the media and in the minds of government and NGO leaders - the need for coordinated, long-term systems of rehabilitation including health care and social services. In discussions with SEIPH and MSPP leaders, they articulate a shared vision of the need to build Haitian human resources and infrastructure in health and rehabilitation, of the importance of Haitian civil society organizations, and of Haitian ownership of the solutions.

Some steps that would help move toward a national rehabilitation system include:

• A commitment, included in Haiti’s National Reconstruction Plan, to build a system of rehabilitation care for all Haitians with disabilities, not just earthquake-related or physical disabilities, and that the plan integrate both state-of-the-art rehabilitation medicine with a CBR model to eventually reach all corners of the country.
• Creation of a national registry of all Haitians with disabilities to both help monitor individuals’ care and follow-up (not least to keep track of all those evacuated for care overseas) and for global planning. Handicap International has begun a database to track those who suffered disabling injuries in the earthquake (especially amputations). SEIPH is building its own database for all disabilities. It is crucial to construct these information systems so that data collected by each NGO also flows into the Haitian government national database.
• Creation of a national Commission on Disabilities (chaired by the SEIPH), comprised of the relevant government ministries (e.g. Health, Education, Social Affairs and Labor, Commerce, Transportation), werful leaders of society, NGO’s, and representatives of the disability community - to coordinate policy and programs related to disability - e.g. to ensure that issues of mobility and physical access, workplace rights, and education are taken into consideration as the country rebuilds.
• Movement toward a true partnership and shared responsibility between Haitian and international NGOs and Haitian government entities, in which NGO programs are coordinated with each other and fit into a national system, and in which outside funding streams are channeled in ways that build on the efficiency and focus of NGO approaches but also support Haitian authorities and promote and build long-term Haitian infrastructures.

Jean-Claude Louis is a Haitian journalist and Regional Consultant for Panos Caribbean, an NGO that amplifies the voices of the marginalized through media

Marika MacRae is Executive Director of PAZAPA, a Haitian NGO which works with children with disabilities

Harris Huberman MD MPH is Director, Division of Child Development, Department of Pediatrics, SUNY Downstate, New York City and Operations Coordinator for the Central America Caribbean Initiative for Childhood Disabilities (CACIC Project ) 

7 March 2010

Push on to get prosthetics, rehab for thousands of Haitian amputees - Canadian Press By Sheryl Ubelacker

23 February 2010

Occupational therapists lend a helping hand in Haiti - from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

22 February 2010

Georgetown Boy Scouts packed 700 lbs of school supplies and over 300 hygiene bags for Haiti - Photos from the event, courtesy of Karen MacKenzie-Stepner - News clip to follow shortly.

Countless Lost Limbs Alter Life in Haiti’s Ruins - New York Times - features Caryn Brady, a Team Canada Member

16 February 2010

Haitian Secretary Addresses International Support for Haitians with Disabilities

15 February 2010

Advocates hope that out of the Haiti earthquake tragedy comes better attitudes toward people with disabilities

Losses in Haiti Come into Focus

13 February 2010

Team Canada Members continue to assist directly with rehabilitation efforts in Haiti and from Canada by helping coordinate the placement of rehabilitation professionals where they can be of most help.

In Post-Quake Haiti, A Surge Of Amputees by Corey Flintoff

Fundraising Events

Fredericton's Downtown Blues Band is playing Friday Feb 12 at IROC -5:30pm until 9pm - Fredericton - There is no cover charge for the show.

Inches Weight Loss & Evolution Fight & Fitness are hosting a COMBO-COMBAT Bootcamp - 100% of proceeds will go to Team Canada Healing Hands for HAITI Fredericton, Monday & Wednesdays 11:45-12:30 pm starting 15 February

Monday, Feb 15th - Interval Bootcamp
Wednesday, Feb 17th - Cardio Thai Boxing
Monday Feb, 22nd - Belly Dancing
Wednesday, Feb 24th - Pilates
Monday, March 1st - Cardio Dance
Wednesday, March 3rd - Yoga
Monday March, 8th - Muay Thai
Wednesday, March 10th - Total Body Blast Bootcamp

COST:  $10 per class OR special rate for all classes
LOCATION: 1225 Prospect Street Evolution Fight & Fitness Club (Next to the Bank of Montreal and Hakim Optical)

We are deeply grateful for the multitude of people who have contacted us wanting to provide assistance, equipment and spearhead collection drives for supplies. While we wish we could use all of the support so generously offered, Team Canada will be concentrating our efforts on fulfilling the human resource needs for rehabilitation professionals desperately required to train and provide care for the large numbers of injured and disabled.

The World Health Organization has requested that Handicap International (HI) and Christian Blind Mission take the lead in forming a sub-group on disability that will focus on the coordination of assistance for Haitians suffering from traumatic injuries leading to both short term and permanent disability. Team Canada Healing Hands (TCHH) and Healing Hands for Haiti are working closely with this group.

With respect to equipment and supplies, the immediate need is for wheelchairs and crutches for those with amputations and fractures. While the donation of equipment and supplies that have been offered to TCHH may be usable at a future date, we do not have the infrastructure to collect, store or ship these items at this time.

Teams working in Haiti are only interested in new equipment or in excellent shape. Those of us who have been providing rehab services in Haiti for the past 10 years know that equipment needs have always been there. One of the issues is that the expertise and hardware to repair wheelchairs and equipment is not available in Haiti, nor are the roads and sidewalks kind on the equipment, resulting in a much shorter lifespan that they would have in Canada or the USA. This means that those people who are using these chairs and equipment must wait for our teams to get to Haiti to repair them. Also, there is no “garbage system” in Haiti, so many of these items end up on the street when they can no longer be used.

It is estimated that there have been between 2,000 - 4,000 amputations as a result of fractures and infections. The goal is to establish agreed guidelines so that all people fitted with prosthetics will be able to be treated and have them repaired anywhere in the country. It is now planned that ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) technology will be used to provide prosthetic devices. This technology has been designed in and for use in the developing world. Healing Hands has been training our Haitian technicians and using this technology for the past 2.5 years. Recycled components will have uncertain value in the rehabilitation of Haiti’s Amputee Population and are unsustainable with an unpredictable supply and types of components needed to construct these highly specialized devices..

We strongly urge you to support the needs of the injured and disabled by financially supporting Team Canada or another group working to provide long term training and care for the many Haitians left with a disability in the wake of the January 12th earthquake.

Preliminary report on injuries from Handicapp International

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