Celebrating World Physiotherapy Day with Stroke Education and High Blood Pressure Screening

At FONTEN we are celebrating all the wonderful physiotherapists at FONTEN and our colleagues around the world with a community outreach day of high blood pressure screening and stroke education. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is prevalent in Haiti. Studies have shown incidence rates of hypertension between 39% to 69% in Haitian communities and that less than 25% of adults over 40 have normal blood pressure. These numbers make a direct impact on almost every family because hypertension contributes to or directly causes most strokes, kidney failure and heart attacks. Stroke alone is one of the leading causes of death in Haiti at 11%. Many of our patients are recovering from strokes, re-learning how to move and walk. Awareness has grown significantly in the past few years and at FONTEN we are working hard to keep educating about risk factors, dangers and medication, screening for hypertension, liaising with the clinics and hospitals, and advocating for our patients in an effort to limit the number of our friends and neighbours who are killed or seriously injured by strokes.

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Roseme’s Story

We want to share the story of Roseme. She is a little girl, 10 years old, who had a congenital malformation so her right leg was nearly half the length of her left and she needed crutches to get around. rosemene_pre-amputation.jpg

In 2017, FONTEN together with Hope for Haiti clinic managed a free surgery so Roseme could have a suitable stump to use a prosthesis. After several months of therapy and accumulation of the materials and funds necessary to build the prosthesis, Roseme and FONTEN were ready to fit her new prosthetic leg. With this she is able to walk without crutches and looks forward to a more normal life like other children her age.

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Physio Students Learn How to Correct Club Foot from FONTEN Staff

Haitian PT students from one of the first graduating classes of Haiti’s two new physiotherapy schools are with FONTEN for practicums. Today they learned how to correct clubfoot in children by a series of manipulations and castings followed by bracing with orthoses. Caught young enough, this simple, affordable method can prevent a lifetime of painful disability and reduced mobility. learning club foot.jpglearning club foot 2.jpg

GlobalGiving BONUS DAY

Today is BONUS day!

FONTEN has an opportunity to become one of the permanent grassroots organization in the GlobalGiving family. This partnership could provide us with corporate sponsors, networking opportunities and much more! Today is BONUS day. For 24 hours ending at 11:59 EST all donations will be matched (proportionately) with prizes for most donations, most monthly donors and most $$$ within the time parameters. Please share our project small donations go a long way – especially today!

Our project: Provide Therapy to 500 Children in Haiti aims to raise $20,000, enough to fund all our children’s programs for one year including therapy, orthotics and prosthetics at FONTEN clinic, outreach initiatives in remote communities (including Isle A Vache), and support of local orphanages. (Our Clubfoot Correction program is funded through partnership with CURE International).

Men anpil, chay pa lou.

Many hands make the load lighter.


Global Giving Opportunity

FONTEN Tous Ensemble has been selected as one of the grassroots organizations to compete in Global Giving’s Accelerator Program. We must successfully raise $5000 between now and June 29th in order to be featured on a permanent basis among the amazing projects Global Giving highlights. We are excited for the possibility through GlobalGiving to generate corporate sponsorship,  expand our network and reinstate programs put on hold due to lack of funds. For this fundraising campaign we are highlighting our work with children. FONTEN has about 500 child patients each year, almost 40% of our patients! We see many children once or twice a week for regular therapy, others are seen at outreach clinics or one of the local orphanages we support. We provide education for parents and orphanage caregivers on how to care for children with special needs.

To help us become a permanent facet of GlobalGiving or to see our project page click here. Or to learn more about GlobalGiving – a non-profit that vets and connects grassroots organizations with corporate and private sponsors, click here.

As always we are so grateful to the Friends of FONTEN who make our work possible!

1/2 Marathon in Les Cayes

This weekend Les Cayes hosted it’s first 1/2 Marathon.  Congratulations to all the competitors and event organizers on a successful race! FONTEN participated, providing free massage and acute care for participants at the finish line, coincidentally several steps away from our clinic location. A big thank you to Bastian and Norman, our new OT and PT volunteers from America Solidaria, as well as students from the UNEFA school of physiotherapy in Port-au-Prince who will graduate as some of the first PT’s trained in Haiti! Together, we helped many people with significant post race cramping and acute injuries and sent several racers with suspected stress fractures for imaging.

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Volunteer Reflection – Physiotherapy Students from Chile

This is an approximate translation – to read the original Spanish language article on UC website please click here.

Bernadette Valenzuela and María José Vicuña were volunteers in Haiti.

Two fourth year students from the UC Physiotherapy program spent 3 weeks in Haiti as volunteers of the “Tous Ensemble” Foundation. We invite you to read their experience in their own words:

Consuelo Alzamora is a Chilean Occupational Therapist. Just after finishing her studies, she volunteered in Haiti with the América Solidaria foundation and never returned. There she met her husband, found her purpose, and co-founded Tous Ensemble; which is the only rehabilitation center in southern Haiti. Consuelo directs the center, with two rehabilitation technicians trained in Haiti and two prosthesis makers, as well as support staff and professional volunteers from América Solidaria.

That was what we knew with when we embarked on an almost empty plane to one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Common comments from our relatives were: “Take care of yourself”, “Get vaccinated”, “Are you sure you’ll be able to do it?”, “Why do you want to go see so much suffering?”; however, the experience was a surprise to us both. Tous Ensemble is a foundation with a well-equipped rehabilitation center, with well-trained therapists and a wonderful purpose: to rehabilitate those who need it, regardless of whether they can pay or not. They take care of the entire population of southern Haiti, and not only in the field of rehabilitation, but any health problem they are able to address, a Vascular Brain Accident, to poorly cast bones and prosthesis manufacturing.

We learned as we have never done in a classroom, and in a tremendously meaningful way. We had just finished third year of Physiotherapy (a 5 year professional program in Chile), therefore, we knew very little about treatment. The lack of therapists at the center and the confidence they showed helped us catch up very quickly. The first days we observed, but then, with our precarious Kreyol, we began to take care of patients each time being able to contribute a little more until we understood that a physiotherapist does not need to have the best intellectual skills, but needs humanity. What we learned was that each patient has a history that can not be ignored, that education is fundamental, that very few words are needed to communicate and build rapport, and that the bonds that form in a therapy session can be as valuable as the therapy itself.

We think that an experience like this is very rare, because we are not used to putting on simple shoes and seeing beyond the obvious. Because of this we invite everyone to collaborate with Tous Ensemble in any way, we cannot turn a deaf ear to our Haitian colleagues, they need help and we have it in the palm of our hands.



Authors Bernadette and Maria pictured with rehabilitation technicians Senat and Samuel, and patient (right).


We are very happy to share with you some wonderful news. After a two year bureaucratic process, FONTEN (Fondation Tous Ensemble) has received official recognition from the Haitian Government! It has been quite a journey and transition for us, founding FONTEN to take over clinic operations and outreach programs in our community when MTI (Medical Teams International) left Haiti in the spring of 2016. We thank the Friends of FONTEN who have sustained the Foundation, providing 85% of our budget through private donations – we literally could not have done it without you. The past two years we’ve operated at 50% of our intended budget (about 20% the MTI budget) and been forced to make difficult decisions and put some programs on hold.

Despite challenges, including Hurricane Matthew, we have kept our doors open and actually slightly increased the number of appointments and clinic patients. We have maintained a full staff of Haitian professionals and continued our support of two orphanages for children with disabilities. Provision of assistive devices, clubfoot correction, the prosthetics and othotics programs and key outreach initiatives continue. We have grown the group classes including CVA (stroke), back pain, knee pain, weight loss and scoliosis clubs – fostering community and encouraging peer-peer engagement in rehabilitation and wellness. Our advocacy and community engagement continue and we have engaged with the two new physiotherapy schools in Haiti to support the training of Haitian professionals here at home!

The significance of this official recognition and status is larger than it seems. Now, doors are open that were before closed. We can apply for research grants and grassroots funding as a certified Haitian Foundation. We can see a near future in which we have the resources to grow programs and reinstate those put on hold due to lack of funds. Our hope to continue growing our capacity to support rehabilitation, education and advocacy in our community is one step closer to being a reality!

If you have connections with grants or professionals who may be interested in helping us with these next steps please contact us! In the meantime, we still rely almost completely on your private donations. Thank you so much for your support during these transitional years – we are so happy to share this exciting news with you!

Scoliosis Class Highlight

“Scoliosis Class” is a class of exercises specially designed for young people with scoliosis. Today, they come into the clinic each Wednesday afternoon, organize themselves and work mainly autonomously. They have even created their own youth association for young people with scoliosis. They want to inform the community about scoliosis and help other young people and children with the same challenges. Today we celebrate these empowered young people who are taking ownership of their own health and seeking to share education and opportunities with others in our community. We are so proud of these fun and hardworking young people !

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