What the Earthquake Couldn’t Take
by Chris Lumsden
Frenel sits and waits in his hospital bed. The doctors say that in order to save his life, they will have to amputate his leg.
“What will my friends think of me?” Frenel thinks. “Will I ever play soccer, let alone walk, again?”
The massive earthquake that shook Haiti in 2010 had shaken this 14-year-old boy to the core.
“In the hospital, Frenel was usually happy, but became sad when we talked about what his life would be like, even though we were giving him an artificial limb” says Dr. June Hanks, director of the Haiti Advantage Program. “He said that he regretted that he would never be able to play soccer again.”
Frenel’s fear of losing soccer soon vanished.
Not only did Frenel receive an artificial limb that allows him to function independently, the Haiti Advantage Program now fields a soccer team for limb-loss victims. Directed by Dr. June Hanks, the program is designed to improve the quality of life for people like Frenel.
“One of his first activities following receiving his artificial leg in the Haiti Advantage Program Prosthesis and Orthosis shop was kicking a soccer ball” says Dr. Hanks. “The smile on his face was worth gold to all of us.”
Now, as he gets ready for a game, Frenel goes onto the soccer field and dawns his uniform with pride.
“All Haitians love football” says Dr. Hanks. “To be able to play is a great encouragement to those with disabilities. When the young men and women play, they have tons of fun.”
Giving prosthetics is one thing, but giving back the opportunity to experience a full life is even greater. When the community sees Frenel playing soccer with an artificial limb, it improves the social perception of disabled individuals.
“As image bearers of God, all persons, with and without disability, are precious to God” says Dr. Hanks. “Recognition of the abilities of persons with disability and allowing persons with disability to participate without discrimination will benefit the entire community.”
Frenel never thought he’d put on shin guards, kick a ball, or score a goal after the earthquake. The earthquake may have taken his leg, but it couldn’t take away his passion for life and the game he loves. He smiles as wide as ever. Soccer is back.