Victim to Champion-Haiti

Social Responsibility Movies, Sports

Victim to Champion-Haiti

A disability in a poor, underdeveloped country can be seen as an unbearable burden and a handicap that cannot be overcome. In Haiti, dream of the London Paralympics 2012 feeds the hope.

The Pascale Toussaint rehabilitation centre recently opened in northern Haiti to provide physical rehabilitation for paraplegic patients, many from the 2010 earthquake.

SOUNDBITE (Creole) Dr. Paul Euclide Toussaint, Medical Director, of Pascale Toussaint Rehabilitation Center:
“Before, for someone to have a spinal cord trauma, it meant lying down at home and waiting for an imminent death either because of complications due to having to stay in bed too long or not being able to stand up and go anywhere.”

Half of the cases here are motorbike accidents.

Located in a hospital near the northern city of Cap Haitien, the centre is supported by the NGO (Non Governmental Organization) Haitian Hospital Appeal, which aims to integrate the disabled into society.

Patients are learning to develop new skills.

SOUNDBITE (English) Carwyll Hill, CEO, Haiti Hospital Appeal:
“A lot of them found it difficult to reintegrate and to be welcome back into their family. Difficulties with getting employment to support their families. So we really wanted to generate activities to support them when they left the hospital, to give them opportunities to get some skills, so they can set up microbusinesses.”

New programs and new machines like this handcycler, are being developed based for sport.

SOUNDBITE (English) Carwyll Hill, CEO, Haiti Hospital Appeal:
“They can really prove and challenge this stereotype in Haiti that people with diabilities are worthless. So they can prove that it is actually not the case. And that they need to be a part of their culture, a part of the government structure, winning employment. And that persons with disabilities in Haiti need to have their voice to be heard.”

This is Leon Gensly, a disabled athlete who lost the use of his legs during the January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

The centre brought him back from Santo Domingo where he was struggling to survive. He was depressed, not able to use his body anymore. But now – his life is changing.

SOUNDBITE (Creole) Leon Gensly, patient and Paralympics athlete:
“I am always moving my body. Because since I started moving, I am not the kind of person to stay home, inactive. I have always been trying to do some sports to get stronger.”

After fighting to get his strength back, not only is he giving hope to other patients at the centre, he’s competing to qualify for London 2012 Paralympics.

His temporary trainer from the Swiss Foundation for Paraplegics is helping to use his example to build a sports centre for disabled people in Quartier Morin.

SOUNDBITE (French) Albert Marty, Trainer, Swiss Foundation for Paraplegics:
“He is really motivated and proud of representing Haiti, doing sports. He really is a good person to represent our idea for this project.”

Leon has a new challenge, to show Haiti that its 10 percent handicapped population is worth being supported and recognized.

UPSOUND (Creole) Leon Guesly patient and Paralympics athlete:
”I have to represent Haiti. Normally, the president sitting in his palace is the one representing Haiti in front of the entire world. Now I feel the same, I am like the president re


Language: English

Year of Production: 2011

Length: 2 mins

Country: Haiti


  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV)


  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV)