Oct 15 9:00 PM

For Haiti's amputees, a struggle but less of a stigma

Moise Metellus playing inside his home.
America Tonight

Seven-year-old Moise Metellus seems no different from other Haitian boys his age.

He lives with his parents and brother in a poor suburb of Port-au-Prince. They lost everything when their house collapsed during the devastating earthquake in January 2010.

But Metellus lost something more.

"His foot was badly damaged,” his mother Wechline said. “The house collapsed on him and his brother."

After reaching a hospital the next day, one doctor said Metellus did not need an amputation. However, a foreign doctor delivered the terrible news in a second opinion.

"The white American looked at it and said, ‘If we don't cut his foot off, the child will die,'" his mother said. “They cut his foot off on the 18th of January."

In Haiti, people missing limbs have been stigmatized, considered outcasts and called "kokobe," meaning "cripple" in Creole.

"It's a cultural matter in Haiti because only the strong survive," said Rudolph Lalanne, vice president of the board of directors for Healing Hands for Haiti. "If you have any kind of handicap, you are done. They throw you away."

But some of that stigma is starting to change after so many Haitians lost limbs in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Special correspondent Soledad O’Brien reports on how nonprofits Healing Hands for Haiti and Handicap International have teamed up to help Haitian amputees live more fulfilled lives.

Check out the rest of Soledad O'Brien's Haiti coverage here.


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