Knights co-launch film on hope among Haiti's young amputees

Amputee soccer players from Haiti known as Team Zaryen take part in a match in 2011. Credit: Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus partnered with Connecticut-based EVTV to produce a documentary on hope and healing of Haitian children injured in the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that rocked the country.

The film, “Unbreakable: A Story of Hope and Healing in Haiti,” will be featured at the Portland Film Festival on Saturday, Aug. 30.

In January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed over 100,000 people, injured thousands and left around 1.5 million homeless. The documentary tells the story of an often overlooked group affected by the earthquake – thousands of children who received emergency amputations in order to survive the injuries they sustained.

“This film shows that when there is the will do so – both in terms of those providing aid and those receiving it – lives can be saved and transformed by a program that is truly sustainable,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson, executive producer of the documentary. “The work of the dedicated medical staff and the unbreakable spirit of these Haitian young people – in circumstances most of us can’t imagine – are truly inspiring.”

After the disaster, the Healing Haiti’s Children initiative offered free prosthetics and rehabilitation to every injured child that needed the care. The program, a result of a partnership of the Knights of Columbus and the University of Miami’s Project Medishare for Haiti, has helped more than 1,000 children received medical care.

Another result of the program also featured in the film was a soccer team comprised of many children who endured amputations. They named their team Zaryen, after a tarantula known for being able to survive and thrive even after losing a limb. In a country where disability is often seen as a sign of divinely appointed punishment, the soccer team’s story is helping to change that perception.

“In Haiti, there has long been a stigma about disabled people,” explained Dr. Robert Gailey, rehabilitation coordinator for Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince. “The traditional thinking was that disability somehow reflected a negative supernatural judgment on the person. This rehab program, and the soccer team, has really changed that way of thinking.”

The healthcare initiative now has a permanent rehabilitation clinic in Haiti that is increasingly staffed by locals in order to maintain a sustainable program that continues helping children.

“We're still here…one of the few prosthetic facilities that are still going,” says prosthetist Adam Finnieston in the documentary. “That was our mission goal from the beginning, to build a sustainable facility…training locals.”

So far the Knights of Columbus have provided more than $1.5 million in funding for the prosthetics program. One of the most active charitable organizations in the United States, the Knights of Columbus last year donated more than $170 million and 70 million hours of service.

The film will be shown at the Portland film festival on Sat., Aug. 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Cinema 21.


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October 25, 2014

  • Saturday, October 25

    World Apostolate of Fatima Conference, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (noon Mass, Bishop Alexander Salazar presiding), Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., L.A. (310) 890-7912.

    Our Lady of the Angels Region Congress, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., St. Mary’s Academy, Inglewood; $. (310) 216-9587.

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    St. Pius-St. Matthias Academy Open House, 10 a.m., 7851 E. Gardendale St., Downey. (562) 861-2271.

    Requiem Mass, for children lost to miscarriage and stillbirth, 10 a.m., St. Therese Church, 510 N. El Molino St., Alhambra. (626) 733-2297.

     “Mission Music,” with De Angelis Vocal Ensemble, 2 p.m., Mission San Juan Capistrano Basilica, 31520 Camino Capistrano,; $. [714] 928-9567.

    St. Philip the Apostle School Fall Festival, 2-10 p.m., 161 S. Hill Ave., Pasadena. (626) 795-9691.

    “Touch & Heal,” Cathedral Chapel  benefit concert, 4:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. concert, Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto HS, 2900 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles; $. (323) 930-5976.

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