5 STAR Global Ministry’s Work In Haiti with TalkTools

My name is Autumn Marshall and I am the president and co-founder of 5 STAR Global Ministry. I have been serving in Haiti since 2007, and living full-time in Haiti since 2011. The question that always comes up is: Why Haiti? Well… when I first went to Haiti in 2007 I came across a special needs orphanage called Heaven’s Waiting Room. As the name suggests they were just waiting for the children to die. The children’s basic needs were met but that was it. They lacked stimulation, activity, therapy, and quality of life. As a sophomore in OT school, I wanted more for them and it was at that moment I felt God calling me to fight for them. From this point on I would spend at least 3 months a year in Haiti until I could move there full-time.

Over the years the orphanage grew from 14 children, to 48 children, to a waiting list of 50. I began to ask more questions and what I found was shocking to me. All of these children had parents! Their parents just did not want them… Children with special needs in Haiti are seen as worthless, cursed, possessed and thus often abandoned or hidden away. If a family does choose to keep their child with special needs they can be outcast from their community. I knew what needed to happen, and it was no small task to take on. We needed to find a way to empower the families to keep their children, help them create bonds with them, and slowly change the culture around children with special needs in Haiti. 

In 2009 I started the FJS Outreach Program. This program is a multifaceted program that exists to help families who have children with special needs in the community to feel empowered to care for, advocate for & raise their children with special needs. Our goal is that they know that they are not alone, but have a support system and family within the outreach program. We strive so that each child will receive specialized quality education & medical care to address their unique needs (medical, nutrition, therapy, etc.). Ultimately, our goal is that each child will participate in their family and community to their fullest ability. We plan to do this by filling in the gaps where the families need us (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually)

In 2009 we started with about 12-15 moms coming 1x a week for therapy in groups of 4-5. Therapy mainly consisted of massage and stretching. We chose to use group therapy in order to form a community for the parents and children. To help families to know they are not alone. Today it consists of 15 programs to fill in gaps where families need us anywhere from therapy to medical to vitamins, etc.  To learn more about our various programs you can visit our website at We have served over 1,600 children and their families to date. That is 1,600 families who have been empowered to keep their children and receive the help they need versus abandoning them to orphanages or hiding them away. It is incredible to see how the program has grown. Some families come up to 4 hours 1 way to receive services. We are the only pediatric therapy center of its kind in the entire northwest zone of Haiti. Over the years we have seen the view of special needs children slowly shift!

My second passion is educating and training nationals. When I first came to Haiti in 2007 there were no therapy schools in Haiti. In 2010 after the earthquake a few Rehab Technician Programs were started. I had the privilege of teaching and taking students on clinical from the Loma Linda program in Haiti. When that program shut down I was able to be involved in helping open the first OT and PT school in Haiti as well as helping create the OT association for Haiti. I worked with  the World Federation of OT to get our school accredited. I have taken countless students on clinical from the OT/PT School. There are still no schools for speech therapy in Haiti and thus there is still a huge need in this area.

In 2011 was the first time I was introduced to Talk Tools. They donated a few classes that I personally took and some of their products for me to use in Haiti. I was able to take what I learned and condense it into a 1 day training that over the years I have re-taught to over 40 nationals that I have helped train in oral motor and feeding therapy. Over the years Talk Tools has continued to donate which has allowed us to help many children in our program and other programs across Haiti. 

5 STAR Global Ministry has recently expanded our therapy staff to include an entire team of Haitian therapists including an OT, PT, 3 Rehab Technicians, and 2 Activity Assistants. Prior to me coming stateside this past month they specifically asked for more training from TalkTools and made a list of supplies they were running low on. We are excited to learn more from Talk Tools classes and look forward to putting that information into practice.

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