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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

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)

Next Story

Tech Giant Google Introduces Online Coding Course to Train Workers

At the time, Pichai also mentioned that Google's program for certifying IT professionals will expand to 100 US community colleges by the end of 2020

google, online tracking
A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

The US-based tech Google has introduced a new “Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate” a program that is designed to provide job-ready skills in Python, Git and IT automation in under six months.

“Python is now the most in-demand programming language, and more than 530,000 U.S. jobs, including 75,000 entry-level jobs require Python proficiency. With this new certificate, you can learn Python, Git and IT automation within six months,” Natalie Van Kleef Conley Product Lead, Grow with Google, said in a statement on Thursday.

The program includes a final project where learners will use their new skills to solve a problem they might encounter on the job, like building a web service using automation.

FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

“To ensure learners from underserved backgrounds have access to both IT Professional Certificates, will fund 2,500 need-based scholarships through nonprofits like Goodwill, Merit America, Per Scholas and Upwardly Global. Along with top employers like Walmart, Hulu and Sprint, Google considers program completers when hiring for IT roles,” Conley added.

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Back in October last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and White House advisor Ivanka Trump announced a program to provide 250,000 Americans training opportunities to teach technology skills.

At the time, Pichai also mentioned that Google’s program for certifying IT professionals will expand to 100 US community colleges by the end of 2020. (IANS)