Keeping the Promise
More than a year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the children injured in that calamity have renewed hope thanks to the joint efforts of Project Medishare, the Knights of Columbus, Össur, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Through the joint “Healing Haiti’s Children” program, established by the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare last year, every child who lost a limb in the Haitian earthquake is now eligible for a two-year course of free prosthetics and physical therapy.
On Saturday, March 5th in Port-au-Prince, the organizations unveiled the state-of-the-art Össur International Prosthetics and Orthotics Laboratory during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Project Medishare Hospital Bernard Mevs.
The lab was donated by Össur and houses equipment purchased through the Knights of Columbus funding of the “Healing Haiti’s Children” program. Challenged Athletes Foundation has also become involved in the rehabilitation element of the program, working with the children to make sure that their rehabilitation brings them the opportunity of the highest level of physical performance possible.
During the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, Össur’s founder, Össur Kristinsson, himself an amputee, presented over 600 modular prosthetic systems to Project Medishare and the new lab.
“We are pleased to be able to help to heal those children injured in the devastating earthquake and to give them renewed hope in the possibility of living life with regained mobility. Providing the limbs, therapy and support to these children is truly a life changing gift, and one that we are very pleased to be able to give in partnership with Medishare and with the help of Challenged Athletes Foundation and Össur,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
The new lab will be the nexus of education and production of prosthetics and orthotics in Haiti. It will house materials and equipment, and serve as a classroom for training the Haitians who will be hired as prosthetic techs. Two Haitians have already been hired and are being trained to fabricate, adjust, and fit sockets and liners, as well as prosthetic knees, and feet. As a result of this program, more hires are anticipated in the near future.
The lab promises to be a sustainable, needed, and advanced care system for all amputees of Haiti, the likes of which has not been available – in total – until now.
The lab is a continuation of the Healing Haiti's Children program that began in the summer of 2010. To date, more than 100 children have been fitted with prosthetics through the “Healing Haiti's Children” program.