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Haitians Who Lost Limbs in 2010 Quake Get Help from Disabled Workers

Wilfrid Macena was a welder who built gas station tanks for a living when the devastating 2010 earthquake toppled a wall

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Workers, Haitians, Limbs
FILE - Amputee and prosthetic technician Wilfrid Macena leans against a tree in his yard as he looks at his smart phone, in Carrefour, Haiti, June 5, 2019. VOA

Wilfrid Macena was a welder who built gas station tanks for a living when the devastating 2010 earthquake toppled a wall at the garage where he worked and crushed his right leg.

He was unable to reach a hospital for seven days and his knee became infected, forcing doctors to amputate most of his leg. Several weeks later, he came to an institution run by Haiti’s Episcopal Church in downtown Port-au-Prince where a small group of disabled workers were fitting victims with prosthetics and received his first artificial leg.

“It’s like I got a brand new life,” he recalled, adding that one of the workers at St. Vincent’s Center convinced him to join their team, assuring him that it was similar to welding.

In July 2010, six months after the earthquake, he built his first prosthetic — a job that took him three days.

Workers, Haitians, Limbs
Prosthetic technician Wilfrid Macena works in a workshop at the St. Vincent’s Center, an institution run by Haiti’s Episcopal Church in downtown Port-au-Prince, June 4, 2019. VOA

Now, nine years and more than 3,000 prosthetics later, he’s still at it, and it takes only four hours. Most of those have gone to people like him who lost a limb in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake estimated to have killed 300,000 or more.

“We’re still seeing new patients,” he said, adding that an elderly woman who lost both legs in the earthquake recently came by the center. “She wants to move, go to church.”

The workers at St. Vincent’s Center were all taught by 60-year-old Emmanuel Celicourt, who is unable to speak and has been working at the center for decades. Overall, they have made some 8,000 prostheses since the quake, although now only about 15 percent of people seeking help are earthquake victims.

Macena said being an amputee helps him relate to patients and inspires confidence in them.

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“People understand me better than someone who has two legs,” said Macena, who also is captain of a soccer team and has taught athletes how to play with crutches.

He recently tended to Natasha Guillaume, a 9-year-old girl who needed a brace after she was pushed at school, fell and injured her leg. He helped lift her onto a bed fitted with a sheet of faded yellow flowers as she grimaced.

“I was crying at night because of the pain,” she said, adding that she wants to be able to run again with her friends.

Workers, Haitians, Limbs
Technicians Cereste Cherisme, right, and Jules Emmanuel, chat during their shift at the workshop in St. Vincent’s Center in Port-au-Prince, May 22, 2019. VOA

The center first began providing prostheses in the 1950s, sometimes at no cost depending on the needs of a person, said the Rev. Frantz Cole, spiritual director of the center that operates a school for disabled children, a medical clinic and a brace shop where the prostheses are made.

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“We try to provide service mostly to those who have nothing,” he said. “When someone gets amputated, he thinks that is the end of his life. … But [a prosthesis] is like a new beginning for a patient.” (VOA)

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Google Walkout Organisers Face Retaliation at Work

Some 20,000 Googlers had protested last year against the Internet giant’s handling of sexual harassment and, more broadly, its workplace policies around equity and transparency

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Google, smart compose
The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Two Google employees have said they have been retaliated against for helping to organise a walkout among thousands of company workers in November 2018 and are planning a meeting to discuss alleged instances of retaliation, the media has reported.

Some 20,000 Googlers had protested last year against the Internet giant’s handling of sexual harassment and, more broadly, its workplace policies around equity and transparency.

“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace, and investigate all allegations,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Fortune on Monday.

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FILE – A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Claire Stapleton, another walkout organiser and 12-year company veteran, said in the email two months after the protest she was told she would be demoted from her role as marketing manager at YouTube and lose half her reports, according to The Wired.

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Organisers of #GoogleWalkout had published a list of demands for management, including an “end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees” and a “clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously”. (IANS)