Stéphanie is one of those people whose energy could move mountains. She always seems delighted with everything she learns, and is extremely enthusiastic about everything she has experienced since the start of the course. She is one of the classes of students following the courses dispensed by Handicap International in Port-au-Prince, to train rehabilitation technicians.
"Before joining the course, I was studying IT," recounts Stéphanie. “I had also taken English and Spanish classes at the school in Petionville (one of the capital’s neighbourhood). As soon as I heard about the course I signed up and was successful in the selection process." Out of around one hundred candidates, 36 students were admitted to the course.
"The most difficult thing at the beginning was following lessons all day, doing the homework, learning the lessons. We had to get used to the terminology used, to the teachers... What I am enjoying the most right now is learning about anatomy, the different muscles and movements."
The students discover the profession of Rehabilitation Technician during the training courses dispensed on the premises of Healing Hands for Haiti, one of Handicap International’s partners in Port-au-Prince. They alternate between two months of lessons and two months of work placements in hospitals and NGOs, and are supported throughout by a tutor. "That’s the part I like best," says Stéphanie, "it feels good to help other people. It’s very important for me to be able to meet the patients, to listen to them and to talk to them. I am only 21 years old, but when I am with them I feel like I’m really making a difference."
The work placements allow the students to put what they have learned in their lessons into practice and also demonstrate the vital importance of rehabilitation as they observe the benefits to the patients over the course of the sessions. The students are immediately confronted with the reality of the injured patients admitted to the hospitals.
"During one of my work placements I was asked to take care of a 9-year old boy who had 60% burns. His life was still hanging in the balance. I was really happy to be able to help him progress."
In March 2015, Stéphanie and her fellow students will graduate with a Rehabilitation Technician Diploma. They will then be able to work within a medical team, following a physiotherapist’s or doctor’s recommendations in order to make the patients as comfortable as possible.