For the Amputees in Haiti, What Happens Now?

Jan 14, 2011
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With the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti happening this week, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the impact of natural disasters and tragedies and how we, as a society, respond to them.  As usual, my thoughts consistently wander to how all of that relates to disability and people with disabilities.

There has been much press about the individuals who had a limb amputated as a result of the Haiti earthquake and the outpouring of support from around the world.  One of the many stories is that of a now 4-year-old boy named Schneily Similien.  MSNBC has followed him over the past year and told the story of him and his family through blogs, articles, pictures, and videos.

They first introduced him several days following the earthquake, following the amputation but prior to receiving his new leg.
They then show him moving back home with his family after receiving his prosthetic leg.
As the family settles back into day-to-day life, the images change to how Schneily is adjusting and living life as a young boy in post-earthquake Haiti.
With growth comes the need for a new prosthetic – for a growing child, they may need a new prosthetic as often as every six months.  Fortunately, Schneily has received the necessary medical attention and has been fitted for his new prosthetic leg.
So many thoughts rush through my head as I dig through the words and images shown here and the many others that are out there…  I am touched and deeply moved by the resources and support sent to Haiti following this tragedy.  I am overwhelmed by the strength of the human spirit, the power of love and compassion, and the resiliency of people despite what stands in front of them.  I am delighted to see this young boy enjoying life’s simple pleasures when the reality of living in post-earthquake Haiti is far from optimal.  I am curious about other stories – are others receiving the same care as this young boy?  How many others are out there still waiting for medical attention, resources, love, and support?

When I sit here now and get really honest, I can’t stop thinking about what happens next.  What happens as the attention on these people diminishes and support and resources are slowly pulled from the country?  Schneily, and so many other children, will continue to grow and will continue to need a new prosthetic limb every six months.  Who will be there to provide it?  Can we possibly keep up?  Can we possibly meet all the needs?   I don’t know the answers to these questions.

I do have hope and I do believe that despite circumstances people can experience joy and love and peace.  Nonetheless, I am concerned about what’s next.  So much remains to be done and new needs seem to be arising daily.  How will we keep up?

Author: Carolyn