MIAMI (CBS4) – When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti two and a half years ago, it changed the lives of millions of people, not only those affected by the quake but those who are now working to rebuild the country.
CBS4 News Anchor Shannon Hori joined a group of South Floridians who recently traveled to Haiti to see first-hand the work being done by Project Medishare, a non-profit started by two University of Miami doctors.
While there, they found inspiration from perhaps an unlikely group. It’s a soccer team and all the players are amputees.
One is 16-year old Sandy Jean-Luisme. The day the quake struck, he was on a bus with his mother. They both fell off and the bus crushed them. His mother died. Sandy was the lucky one, but he didn’t feel like it.
“After my amputation, I didn’t go to school,” Sandy said through an interpreter.
There’s little attention paid to the disabled in Haiti. But now this unique soccer team is doing more than just playing a game. “These guys start to change the image of what it means to be disabled in Haiti,” said Jason Miller with Project Medishare. “They’re around people with similar injuries, similar stories, and similar problems. They are able to talk about it, joke about it. Get reintegrated into society.”
Sandy said, “I got my life back.”
At Hospital Bernard Mevs, Project Medishare amputees take part in literally rebuilding lives, including their own. Wilfred Macena was one of the first amputee patients at the hospital, now he can make prosthetic limbs from start to finish.
Before the prosthetic limbs were made at the hospital in Haiti, they had to be ordered from Miami. Patients had to wait awhile to get them or they might not fit right.
Several thousand Haitians needed amputations right after the earthquake. But amputations are still taking place today because of the high rate of infection. Prosthetics technician Kernand Emmanuel said he loves seeing the look on the faces of those he fits with a new leg or a new arm.
“When you see them, they are happy,” Kernand says. “You feel proud too.”
These survivors are giving Haitians a reason to feel proud because despite all the challenges, they’re not quitting.
Click here if you’d like more information about Project Medishare. You can donate time, or money. All of it is appreciated.