Each year, five to ten percent of the newborn children in Haiti are born with a serious mental or physical handicap. Many of these disabled newborns are abandoned and sent to private orphanages because state hospitals don't have the resources to care for them. There are virtually no government or social rehabilitation services for the disabled in rural Haiti. Unfortunately, disabilities are often perceived as spiritual in nature, not medical, and caused by a curse or bad behavior. Therefore, special-needs children are often isolated or ostracized. Disabled children are far more likely to die before age five due to a lack of medical care. According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 50,000 children in orphanages throughout Haiti.
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