Enabling Minds is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit whose mission is to improve the lives of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in underserved regions throughout the world by promoting acceptance and inclusion. We began with a group of friends who share a common interest in helping less fortunate people around the world. Some of the friends in our group were involved in providing on-the-ground medical assistance to those affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and had developed an affinity for the people and the culture of Haiti.
After much thought and deliberation about how to best use our passion to help others, many of us realized that we also shared a common interest in working with persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
In May 2012 representatives from our group embarked on a trip to Haiti for a fact-finding mission to explore realities for people living in the country with an intellectual disability. We traveled to the Scalabrini mission in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, where one of our members had stayed previously to work on a humanitarian project.
During the trip, we learned first-hand about the harsh truths for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in Haiti. Hardships for persons with intellectual disabilities include higher rates of malnutrition, discrimination, and social isolation than in the general population. Children with intellectual disabilities in Haiti are also rarely enrolled in school. We discovered that these conditions are often a result of a lack of resources and stigmas associated with disability. Towards the end of our trip, we began to formulate our strategy to affect change in this population. This process continued over the next year and a half, and included another trip to the mission in May 2013.
On October 1, 2013 we successfully implemented a plan to enroll children with intellectual disabilities into a private school located adjacent to the Scalabrini mission, called St. Charles Borromeo. As part of this effort, we hired a permanent teacher and three aides to work with the students during school hours. We also teamed up with Special Olympics, Haiti to coach these students in an afterschool sports program two days a week.
So far this has been an exciting experience, and we have been receiving glowing reports from the stakeholders involved in the project. Parents, staff, and volunteers report that our project has been a constructive and positive learning experience for the students and the community. Our program has evolved to include children with developmental disabilities, and today there are 72 students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities enrolled in the school, and over 30 of these children have been integrated into a general education classroom!
The cost to fund our 72 students is approximately $12,750 a year. Our budget covers educational expenses, including tuition, uniforms, meals, class trips, supplies, and the salaries of teachers and other staff, including a Special Olympics coach. We are funded completely through financial donations from individuals and groups. Contributions can be made through our website or via mail. Please click on the “Donate” button below to make a secure online donation.