When Weslande Jokebed was 3 months old, her mother realized something was very wrong.
“She wasn’t able to move, and even basic functions were proving impossible,” her mother explains, supporting her daughter with both hands. Weslande is currently positioned across her mother’s legs as she receives her twice weekly therapy at Kay Germaine with Sister Lorraine and Norma Lopez’s team. Sister gently takes the two and a half year old’s arm and pulls it slowly forward and then flexes it back in. Both Weslande and her mom watch with rapid attention as Sister fluidly repeats the motion.
Weslande’s journey to Kay Germaine was not a simple one. When as a baby she was diagnosed with hypotonic axial and placidity- a condition that results in a severely limited ability to make even small movements-she was referred to one of the large hospitals in downtown Port-Au-Prince. But the hospital refused to accept Weslande saying that her condition was too difficult to treat. They informed her mom, Jean-Mirlande, that Weslande was a “useless case,” and that there was no possibility of improvements for someone with her condition.
Across town in Tabarre, NPFS had just opened Kay Germaine, a 2,300 square foot rehabilitation, physiotherapy and educational center. Jean-Mirlande, not willing to accept her daughter’s initially prognosis, approached the center with her daughter. Weslande was immediatley accepted and enrolled into the therapy program.
“We are very lucky to have Kay Germaine,” Jean-Mirlande explains. She stays with Weslande, her husband and her two other children in an old charcoal depot given to them by a member of their church after their house collapsed in the earthquake. Since Weslande has very limited independence, Jean-Mirlande is unable to work and stays home with her daughter.
“They really do take such good care of her,” Weslande’s mom affirms. Sister Lorraine has moved onto the other arm, and Jean-Mirlande pays careful attention to make sure her daughter is not in danger of sliding off her lap. Then she smiles, and looks around her. “It’s very slow, but Weslande is steadily improving. Kay Germaine has helped her tremendously-and all for for free.” Her grin becomes wider. “They’re one of the best places in Haiti, and they do it for free!”