Autumn Marshall

Autumn Marshall

What lead you to where you are?

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from Gannon University with a Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2010. I fell in love with missions when I went on my first international mission trip to Mexico when I was 12. I have been serving at the Miriam Center in Haiti as Therapy Coordinator since 2009. My mission and vision is to make the invisible visible through Christ. To fight for and advocate for the needs and rights of special needs children in Haiti and to empower nationals and families to care for these children as God would.  4 years later I branched out my ministry to include educating and training nationals in the field of Therapy (Occupational and Physical Therapy) partnering with the only Rehab Tech school in Haiti.  2 years later I partnered with the first bachelor level OT program that opened in Leogane, Haiti to establish and open the National Haiti Association of Occupational Therapy  where I am currently the President and Alternate Delegate. This association was a pre-​​requisite to getting national accreditation for the university through the World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT).  My dream is that every child with special needs in Haiti would receive the therapy and support that they need and deserve because they are VISIBLE and VALUED as members of their society; that nationals would be trained and equipped to be therapists; and that therapy would be recognized as a medical necessity and thus be integrated into Haiti’s medical systems.

My passion for Haiti and children with special needs happened on my first mission trip to Haiti in 2007. During that trip my heart hurt when I discovered how children and adults with any type of disability were seen as worthless, cursed, possessed, and therefore were often abandoned, left to die, or ostracized from their communities. The children whose families chose to keep them never got the opportunity to go to school, rarely had friends and many times were malnourished, and rarely got outside their homes. Families who chose to keep their children with disabilities were looked down upon. They were seen as the reason why their child was disabled because they must have done something wrong, and often they as a family were ostracized from their community. As an Occupational Therapist, I saw the potential that each of these children had. I saw children ready to thrive. I saw walls that needed to be broken down so these INVISIBLE children would become VISIBLE.

Current Mission

I am currently raising funds for and running 2 programs and I hope to use these 2 programs as a blueprint to replicate across Haiti.

  1. Therapy Residential Program– This is a therapy clinic in northwest Haiti that runs to provide customized weekly 1:1 and daily group therapy to the 37 children who live at the Miriam Center.
  1. Therapy Outreach Program– Outreach is a multi-faceted program that exists to help families who have children with special needs in the community to feel empowered to care for, advocate for and raise their children with special needs. The goal is that they know they are not alone but have a support system and family within the outreach program. She prays that each family will grow in their wisdom and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and have a better understanding of how God loves them and their children. She strives so that each child will receive specialized quality education & medical care to address their unique needs (medical, nutrition, therapy, etc.). Ultimately the goal is that each child will participate in their family and community to their fullest ability. This is done by filling in the gaps where the families need them:
  • Physically: nutritional food, therapy , medical care, schooling, etc.
  • Spiritually: weekly worshiping and praying together as a group and then during home visits getting specific prayer requests
  • Emotionally: by building a community and support system among other families in the same situation.

God has opened doors for me to expand beyond the therapy clinic and first outreach center in the northwest zone of Haiti to include:

  • Partnering with various organizations across Haiti providing training to existing professionals and organizations seeking to help or improve their work with children with special needs. She currently Partners with  Children of The Promise (COTP), Jerry's House, and New Life Children's Home.
  • Training and educating nationals through being a professor at the therapy universities FSRL.
  • Helping open new outreach centers and therapy clinics across Haiti so that more children receive needed services- Currently STAND the HAITI PROJECT is the first expansion out to the neighboring town.
  • Training on building equipment out of resources that can be found in Haiti and also training the nationals to build the equipment.
  • Developing Occupational Therapy (OT) as a medical profession recognized and utilized in Haiti- Currently Vice President of HAOT- Haiti Association of Occupational Therapy and Alternate Delegate for Haiti with the WFOT (World Federation of Occupational Therapy).

Biggest support needs:

  • Spiritual development tools. I do not have good internet to download sermons and worship services. I really appreciated when Grace would send me sermons on a jump drive. Continued support in this way is greatly appreciated.
  • Financial Needs: with the growth of my outreach program I am in need of hiring more staff and I am in the process of trying to find some new rehab staff and raise the funds to hire them.
  • Help- I am also actively praying for and looking for an assistant to help stateside

Special Challenges:

  • Staying spiritually filled and take care of myself emotionally and physically. I just started missionary Christian counseling which has been very helpful and plan to really focus on my physical and spiritual and emotional health so I can have increased longevity in the field.
  • My boyfriend Nathan who lives in Brazil and I are praying about how we move forward in our relationship and ministry and transitioning him to the field and merging our lives and making my ministry our ministry. There is a lot of challenges and details to work out.