SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR & PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (July 11, 2012) The Salesian-run Don Bosco University in El Salvador plans to train 32 new professionals in various forms of prosthetic and orthotics, artificial limbs and other medical support and will place them in rehabilitation centers in Haiti. As ongoing support for those injured in the Haiti earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, this training program was implemented in April 2011 and will continue through December 2014.
The training program is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and supports the ongoing efforts Don Bosco University has already made since their work began in Haiti in February 2010. The University has collaborated with Handicap International and Healing Hands for Haiti providing emergency care and rehabilitation services for those injured in the earthquake since that time. Thirteen people including teachers and qualified students from the faculty of rehabilitation studies at the University have been part of the international aid mission.
“The aim is to help the people. We know what state the country is in after the earthquake. We know this will also help us in our lives and in our profession,” says Alexis Mendoza, one of the volunteers. Volunteers are involved in assessing the condition of the patients, planning and fitting the artificial limbs and providing orthopedic help.
During a trip in 2010, Professor Rolando Martinez Panameño, dean of the School of Rehabilitation Science, estimated that out of approximately 10,000 people in need of help, 4,000 have had an amputation. Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. fundraising arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, added that University Don Bosco was able to provide assistance to children and adults who have had amputations following the 2010 earthquake by providing nearly 200 artificial limbs and more than 100 sessions of orthopedic assistance in Port-au-Prince.
“We are constantly working to expand our services in Haiti to ensure that people with disabilities are able to contribute to the rebuilding of their country. We know that even before the earthquake, children and adults with disabilities faced enormous challenges as resources in Haiti were stretched far beyond capacity,” says Fr. Mark Hyde who is thankful for USAID support for Salesian programs around the globe.
The 32 new students will learn off-site at the University in El Salvador and will be supervised and mentored by a qualified professional as they conduct their work in Haiti. The training program covers all the various areas of prosthetics and orthotics and graduating students will obtain certification in the Standard Category II (orthopedic technologists) of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics. Don Bosco University is the only accredited center for this training in all of Latin America.
The University was recognized by the first-ever World Report on Disabilitiesforits leadership in prosthetic and orthotics education in Latin America and for providing opportunities for adults and children with disabilities. The 2011 report was produced jointly by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
The Salesian school began the first formal training program in the prosthetics and orthotics fields in Latin America in 1996 and since then, about 230 students from 20 countries have graduated with skills that are in demand in their home countries.
“The training program shows how education and training not only benefit the individual student, but also entire communities, as the students return to work in local hospitals and clinics, and even train others in some cases,” says Father Hyde.
Related press release (12/22/2011) - Salesian University Recognized for Leadership in Providing Children with Prosthetics
ANS article (7/6/2012) – University Don Bosco training new technicians to help injured Haitians
World Report on Disabilities, World Health Organization