(Washington, DC) – In keeping with its mission to build a better world through charitable outreach, the Knights of Columbus has brought together two international aid organizations to provide help for the people of Haiti who were injured in the devastating January earthquake.
At a news conference during the 128th Supreme Convention in Washington, D.C., Supreme Knight Carl Anderson introduced the leaders of the two partnering organizations that will bring wheelchairs for injured individuals and prosthetic devices for children who lost a limb in the earthquake.
The organizations are the Global Wheelchair Mission, based in California, and Medishare, a medical mission based in Florida.
Speaking for these organizations were Dr. Robert Gailey, director of rehabilitation services for Medishare; Mike Corcoran, chief of prosthetics for Medishare, and Chris Lewis, president of the Global Wheelchair Mission.
With donations from state and local councils, the Order plans to deliver more than 1,000 more wheelchairs to Haiti in partnership again with the Global Wheelchair Mission.
Help for Haiti’s Children
In April, Supreme Knight Anderson headed a trip to Haiti for the delivery of 1,000 wheelchairs to needy residents. While he was there, he noticed the many children who had lost arms or legs.
“We decided that we would try to do something additional for the children,” he said. “We would make an additional step so they could have a new life.”
In a program called “Hope for Haiti’s Children,” he said, the Order is committed to providing each child who lost a limb in the earthquake with a series of prosthetic devices over the next two years, refitting the devices as they grow. The program, which will require about $1 million in financial assistance, also involves the necessary physical therapy and training for children to learn to use the devices.
“This will give these children a new chance and a new hope,” Anderson said.
Dr. Gailey said that the program is unique within developing countries like Haiti where prosthetic devices are rarely given to children. “When the Knights of Columbus told me that they wanted to fit the children (with prosthetics), I knew this was an unusual and much-needed move,” he said.
He explained that the program has the potential to change the culture in Haiti, where people tend to shun or look down on those with disabilities.
“When these children are able to go back to school with other children, when they are able to show that they can run and play and learn, then there will be a chance of others accepting them, and the life for disabled children in the next generation will become much better,” Dr. Gailey said.
He added, “This is only made possible by the generosity of the Knights of Columbus.”