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Chelsey Sheppard, a Wheeling Jesuit physical therapy student, works with a toddler at God's Little Angels baby ministry in Haiti.
Wheeling Jesuit University Students Provide Physical Therapy to Orphans in Haiti

Six years after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, Wheeling Jesuit University’s physical therapy students continue their efforts to help those in need.

On one recent trip, current and former Wheeling Jesuit students, joined by several doctors and physical therapists, visited the Haitian orphanage, God’s Little Angels (GLA). The team worked with children who have physical therapy needs, as well as joined the local staff in planning ways to foster development for the children.

Though the earthquake hit six years ago on Jan. 12, 2010, its aftereffects are still visible. Many damaged buildings and roads have not been rebuilt, houses remain piles of rubble and many residents are still using the blue tarps given by the Red Cross for shelter. But the earthquake did not create all these problems; rather, it exacerbated the problems of an already poor country.

“People living here are struggling to get by each and every day. I remember someone asking one little boy, 'How often do you eat?' and his reply was, 'When my mother says it is my day,’” said Carrie Abraham, a physical therapy professor at WJU who led the trip.

Founded in 1994, God’s Little Angels cares for orphans in many different ways: offering a safe and healthy environment, education and much needed medical care. In their third visit to GLA, the Wheeling Jesuit team performed free physical therapy assessments for the children. They then created a specific care plan for each child, which the GLA volunteers could carry on after the Wheeling Jesuit team departed.

The ability to apply their classroom knowledge to real situations while concretely helping those who needed it was an opportunity the students will never forget. Chelsea Amos, a recent graduate, said, “I felt a sense of pride when working with the children throughout the week, knowing that the education I received at Wheeling Jesuit University allowed me to provide these children with a little more hope for their future.”

When they weren’t performing assessments, the students were enjoying time with the children. “I was so grateful to have the chance to play with the children and help them grow developmentally. It hasn't set in for me yet, but knowing that we made treatment plans and shared knowledge that GLA will always use is unreal. I left knowing that I had made an impact on the lives of these children,” said recent graduate Michael Angalich.

[Sources: Wheeling Jesuit University, God's Little Angels]





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