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Jun 17, 2022

Prosthetic Hope

This week’s On the Bright Side with Sabreena Daly highlights a non-governmental organization that is offering amputees who are getting another lease on life through the use of prosthetic limbs.


Sabreena Daly, Reporting

Meet Lloyd Graham. He lost his leg six years ago when a trailer fell on top of him. Recounting the incident, Lloyd shared with us the realization that his world would change forever after seeing his limb severed from his body.


Lloyd Graham, Prosthetic leg candidate

Lloyd Graham

“I was a driver and mechanic and I got hurt. A trailer fell on top of me. And this leg went on the ground in the grass and I fell and it break right there.”


But today is no regular day for Graham. He sat in a consultation with Prosthetic Hope International Belize with a hope to put aside his crutches.


Lloyd Graham

“It will give me back my opportunity to survive in life. I could drive now. I could drive standard. I only drive automatic with the leg.”


The same goes for Pablo Rash, except he is here to restore a sense of normalcy on the job site. Rash, an electrician, lost his arm three years ago also in an accident.


Pablo Rash

Pablo Rash, Prosthetic arm candidate

“Well, I do electrical work but for me right now with one arm it’s very difficult to work on it.”


The number of amputees in Belize grows daily as persons attempt to adjust to life after losing a limb to sickness or accidents. For everyone, young and old, it’s difficult.


Dwayne Arzu, Repairing Prosthetic Leg

Dwayne Arzu

“I lost my leg when I was 12 years old. A traffic accident. I was knocked down on the roadside and ever since I am an amputee.”


Alton White

Alton White, Repairing Prosthetic Leg

“It was hard but you know, God brought me through. I guess losing my leg was like a good experience for me because at the rate I was going, I wasn’t going right so, it helps you know. What can I say?”


Prosthetic Hope International is the parent organization of Prosthetic hope International Belize. It provides a critical service to the disabled community and up until recent years, it’s location in Orange Walk District was the only access to prosthetic and orthopedic amenities.


Robert Kistenberg, Founder of Prosthetic Hope International 

Robert Kistenberg

“There’s a time when you finish making a leg and you finally put the prostheses on someone and they feel like they finally have the ability to return to ambulating, to walking, to their work, to having themselves restored to whole again, that’s a really profound moment and that’s the thing that really brings people coming back to try and offer these services and honestly that’s what got me into the profession. More than anything, it’s to be able to make something that you can put on somebody and return their sense of wholeness or their ability to have higher quality of life. That’s really an amazing gift to be able to share with somebody.”


Robert Kistenberg, founder of Prosthetic Hope International, has been providing this service to Belize for twenty-five years. Medical practitioners and technicians that specialize in prosthetics and orthopedics would volunteer their expertise on a quarterly basis in Belize. Over a thousand Belizeans have benefited from the organization, and even more legs were made or repaired during that time.


Brad Vanlenthe

Brad Vanlenthe, Prosthetist

“So, I’m a prosthetist. So, we do assessments of the clients and decide what’s the best course of action for them and then our great technician Josh, this time, builds the devices for us and then when he’s finished, then we do fittings for to device, make sure it’s fitting the way it’s supposed to, put the foot in the right place and space or hand depending on whether we’re doing an arm or a leg and do follow up calls. So, if they come back and they say it’s hurting me, this device is hurting me in this place, then we figure out why it’s that way and try to fix that. So, we make them comfortable again.”

Joshua King, Prosthetic Technician 

Joshua King

“There’s a lot of waiting. Even this, I’ll wet the bandage, hang it there, wait. Then I’ll do it again, wait. I’ll take it back to the shop and stick it in a sand bin, pour liquid pasture in there and then wait. I might do a foam liner, so I’ll put it in the oven and then wait. Put it on the mold and wait for it to cool off. Wait for glue to dry. It’s a lot of waiting time.”


And the turnaround time goes beyond waiting for the final product. Some prosthetic candidates have been waiting for this chance of mobility for years.


Brad Vanlenthe

“At home, you would wait two weeks, three weeks, maybe depending if healing is delayed, four or five weeks for a device. But I was seeing people this time were waiting two years and didn’t have a device. So, that’s hard. It’s nice to be able to do that.”


Robert Kistenberg

“Our goal has always been to have a full-time clinician and raise enough funds to be able to do that. And so, we have been working on that and coming down every quarter. We put this plan in place in the summer of 2018 so that every quarter we send a team down and were able to make as many legs and kind of meet the need that we were aware of but then COVID hit and so we have found ourselves where we are back at a very large waiting list but our goal is still to have folks come quarterly and the funds that we raised through donations for PHI Belize, we’ve been keeping that money to support the salary for a clinician. Because once we have a clinician down there then we would have a full-time ability to take care of people rather than just quarterly. So, the quarterly is just kind of a way to meet a further goal which is to have a full-time clinician in Belize.”


Noel Young is a prosthetic technician who understands empathy when interacting with the disabled community. He has been involved with the organization since the age of nine. While some suffered a tragic accident, or lost a limb from a disease, Young was born without one — His right leg.


Noel Young

Noel Young, Prosthetic Technician

“There’s a saying that goes, who feels it knows it and no other person I believe to be in the position than me.”


Noel Young

“So, for me I was born with one leg. So, coming up was pretty difficult in some sense but having a great mom and siblings, I was able to pursue through a lot of stuff that would happen at school or at work, or whatever the case may be. Now I’m just here to give back what others gave to me and hoping and praying that one day I can say that I am in the position to help as a certified PO.”


Until then, Noel is making the limbs and teaching how to use it. And to our surprise, our second stop at PHI was met with a familiar face. Where he once supported himself with crutches, Lloyd Graham walked out of a room, adjusting to a new leg.


Sabreena Daly

“Mr. Lloyd, you just took your first steps as a walking man again. How do you feel?”


Lloyd Graham

“Oh, I feel happy. I feel happy.”


Sabreena Daly

“So, you’re going back to Ontario Village, a walking man now. Are your family expecting you?”


Lloyd Graham

“Well, they will be surprised.”


Sabreena Daly

“Do they know that you are getting the leg today?”


Lloyd Graham

“No, I didn’t tell them. When I go home, when I begin to walk, they’ll say, “But that’s not Lloyd.” And ill say, “But dah Lloyd, Yes!” They wah surprised.”


Looking on the Bright Side, I’m Sabreena Daly

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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