Despite a pandemic and travel restrictions, Samford University students are serving others and meeting a critical need abroad—all from their classroom.
Graduate students from the Department of Social Work in the School of Public Health have developed training modules for nannies at a children’s home in Jacmel, Haiti. The home is owned and operated by the Alabama-based nonprofit, Children’s Hope, founded by Samford trustee and alumnus Andy Birchfield ’88.
Created by 2022 Master of Social Work graduates Brooke Bissell, Sarah Golden, Taylore Miller, Zelda Peach and Brenna Vincent, these training sessions are based on trauma-informed care, featuring interactive, narrated slides covering such topics as coping skills for children, recognizing trauma and self-care.
Lisa Baker, professor and chair of the Department of Social Work, saw the need firsthand, when she and a team of faculty from the College of Health Sciences visited Haiti in 2019 to learn more about Children’s Hope and how Samford could help.
“Children’s Hope is doing incredible work, meeting the needs of all these children, some of whom are literally abandoned at their gates,” Baker said. “They’re trying to provide medical care, schooling and a safe home environment.”
The organization was founded following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Baker explained, and all the children who come to stay with Children’s Hope remain there until adulthood.
But then came COVID-19.
“With COVID, everything shut down,” Baker said. “So, we wondered how we could use our resources from Birmingham to stay connected to Children’s Hope and help them the best we can.”
Baker identified students focusing on trauma-informed care, namely Bissell, Golden, Miller, Peach and Vincent, and set them to work on a literally life-changing assignment.
“I was able to share my knowledge and experience about trauma from being a graduate social work student with individuals across the world,” Golden said, noting that the project will help inform her future endeavors in trauma-related work.
“With social work, people often don’t realize the scope of what we do and how we can take what we’re teaching here in the middle of Birmingham, Alabama, and totally apply it in another country,” Baker said. “God has given us all sorts of different gifts, and He calls us to use those gifts to serve others. This is one example where it’s not a typical approach, but it’s upholding the mission of Samford.”
To learn more about Children’s Hope and how you can help, go to childrenshope.com.