Port-au-Prince, Haiti - When the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010 nine-year old Sebastian was trapped beneath the ruins of his home for three days. His right leg was crushed beneath cinder blocks and his mother’s lifeless body lay beside him.
A good Samaritan helped pull Sebastian from the debris and he was immediately taken to a local hospital where doctors decided that in order to save his life they needed to amputate Sebastian's right leg.
When he was fit enough to leave the hospital, Sebastian moved in with his aunt and uncle and their eight children. They also lost their home in the earthquake and are now living in a tent camp on the waterfront in a suburb of Port-au-Prince.
Moving on from the tragedy
Today, Sebastian grins from ear to ear as he races around on his crutches and prosthetic.
He plays football and chases his friends through the jungle of tents that house thousands of displaced survivors.
"I feel like a normal boy. I can run, play football and hide and seek. I can even run faster than many other children who still have both legs", says Sebastian.
Sebastian doesn’t complain, even though his prosthetic leg is difficult to use on the rough terrain of the tent city.
Immediately after the accident Sebastian was afraid other children would tease him, but now he has his prosthetic he is happy he can simply run and play with his friends like he did before the earthquake.
cbm helped Sebastian adjust to his new prosthetic leg in April of 2010, but as he grows, larger prosthetics will be needed, meaning regular trips to the hospital and rehabilitation clinics.
Sebastian says he doesn’t mind, and even looks forward to new adventures and going back to school, which is something he hasn't been able to do because his aunt and uncle can't afford it just yet.
Wound care and physiotherapy are essential gaps that cbm and its partners are filling in Haiti, and thanks to this care, Sebastian - and others living with a similar disability - have a real hope for the future.
Since the first few days following the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, cbm Canada (formerly known as Christian Blind Mission) and its partners have helped more than 63,000 survivors, many of whom, like Sebastian, suffered debilitating injuries that could have led to life-long disabilities if not for the interventions of cbm Haiti staff.
“Because of the financial support of generous Canadians, cbm has provided over 126,000 vital medical treatments and helped over 63,000 people since the earthquake,” says Ed Epp, Executive Director of cbm Canada. “We are humbled by the outpouring of empathy. We will continue to ensure that cbm programs in Haiti have a lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of earthquake survivors and those living with a disability in Haiti.”
cbm Canada is a Christian international development organization focused on improving the quality of life of people struggling to survive the double disadvantage of poverty and disability. cbm Canada’s head office is located in Stouffville, Ontario.
cbm has been working in Haiti since 1976, with development projects throughout the country, including five programs for those with disabilities in Port-au-Prince.
Every year, cbm brings hope and transform the lives of more than 23 million people worldwide. www.cbmcanada.org