Prosthetic limbs give quake survivors chance to rise

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You can hardly tell by looking at her, but in the last year, Marie Cammepierre Louis learned how to walk all over again.

Ask what happened to her leg and she’ll say simply, “January 12th.”

Like it did with so many others, the day of Haiti’s devastating earthquake changed Marie’s life forever. It also left an estimated 2000 Haitians as amputees.

Healing Hands for Haiti and Handicap International are working to give Haitians back their limbs as well as their lives.

Their facility in Port au Prince offers every service new amputees need and at no cost to the patient.

They do everything from providing consultations to measuring for prosthetics, to manufacturing them, to teaching patients how to use them.

Marie has been making steady progress and has gotten very comfortable with her new leg.

It’s the first step in rebuilding her life. She lost her home, grocery business and her husband in the earthquake. Now, she lives in a tent with her two young children.

“Being disabled doesn’t bother me,” says Marie in her native Creole. “I have two hands and I only lost one leg and I have the prosthetic. The only problem that I have is taking care of my kids.”

It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, even the tiniest ones. Three-year-old Claudia Romain lost her mother in the earthquake — and her leg — just as she was learning to walk. Now, the center teaches her how to take those first steps and accept her disability.

In Haiti, where the disabled are often shunned, Healing Hands and Handicap International are working to ensure that patients realize they’re not alone. It’s a message they’re hoping to spread across Haiti, one prosthetic limb at a time.