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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haiti: What to Do with a Nation of Amputees

Haiti: What to Do with a Nation of Amputees

From Time Magazine

"...'People are going to think I'm a freak. I wanted to be an electrical engineer. How will I ever get a job now?'"

"...Still, even Mary is more sanguine about change, given that victims like him and Boulevard are now far less alone in Haiti. "People will be forced to think about it," he says. Mary was one of only five among 16 engineering students in his classroom who survived when the quake sent their five-story university building crashing down on them. But he also realizes that many postquake amputees like himself are educated — and that they can be part of the solution, perhaps as prosthetic designers. "I know that I can still be a good electrical engineer," Mary admits. And Haiti can't afford to ostracize any engineers right now."

One cent:

Sanguine, indeed. Imagine that, just when we think we have read everything under the sun, there comes yet another blow to our lethargic routines. Never did we think that there was opprobrium to be heaped on the disabled in the earth-shaken nation.

Not so strangely though, dear writer, have you not noticed that only recently in your country, Brazil, changes are being incorporated to accommodate the needs of the wheelchair-bound? Hopefully, we will get to a point where they are driven about by those snazzy vehicles we often see in the United States where the well-off, physically handicapped can be as independent as they can possibly wish.

Meanwhile, in tropical lanes and byways, they will have to do with giving themselves and "arm forward" for they are far from that dream. It's a beginning, however.

Now, in the country mentioned in this article, where we imagine things aren't quite as "developed" for want of a better word, it's understandable that people should despair and be at a loss, literally, for their future.

Again, sounds horrible to say so, but tragedies have their day in court and who knows they might teach a collective lesson and people might just as well regard their fellow Human Beings with more compassion and long-suffering now that the cataclysm has rammed these bitter pills down their throats.


  1. Challenging and hopeful - two attributes that would come time and tide again with Haiti!

  2. Mauro, I remember reading, long ago, that it was in the wake of several wars, the first world war, the second, onwards that advances in wheelchair, prosthetic design, and accessibility began to be addressed both here (U.S., Colorado here) and in places like Great Britain.

    As more veterans survived, amputees, people confined to wheelchairs were a greater percentage of the population. Having a mandate to make buildings, washrooms, etc. accessible in public areas did come after that -- but at least the technology and advancements will be readily available.

    Just saying, that although it is a tremendous tragedy, that engineering student misspoke -- she won't be considered a freak. Maybe before, but not in the wake of the quake, where it will be a more common fate.

    It is all very tragic, but I agree with you, and then I also got a certain sense of ...hope, I guess...from the realization that, really, the time where amputees were considered not worthy of being hired, or "freaks" is soon to be in the past for Haiti.

    As tragic as the reason is -- that's actually progress for the society.