PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI — In Haiti, a country faced with ongoing challenges of political turmoil and poverty, Louie Pierre Oujee was born with a disability—his legs were outstretched and he had no feeling below the knee.
Unable to walk, Louie is now 5 years old and can only get around by pushing on his hands through the dirt as he drags his body behind him across the ground. Dirty, isolated and rejected, this little boy has had to endure the unthinkable stigma and shame of living with a disability in a culture where physical impairment is viewed as a curse.
In desperate need his family discovered the opportunity to bring Louie to a Joni and Friends Wheels for the World outreach. This was their only chance to get a wheelchair for Louie—a real opportunity of hope.
When Louie was fitted in his brand-new wheelchair, he could not contain his overflowing joy. A big beautiful smile spread across his face as he received even more: the Joni book in his language and a Bible filled with God’s truth that Louie is wonderfully made.
Eric Jones – Vice President Joni & Friends Field Services
Louie had just turned five years old and he was primarily cared for by his teenage aunt and cousin because his parents had to move to Port Au Prince and spent most of their time there working and sending money back or commuting back and forth on a weekends to see the family.
Cindy Little, Wheels For the World Volunteer, Physical Therapist
As a physical therapist I’ll assess their needs and see exactly what it is they do need, whether they need a wheelchair, a walker, a cane and then once we establish what their wheelchair needs may be, a mechanic will work with us and adjust the chairs.
Just watching Cindy work with Louie was an exciting time because of how excited he was. It was kind of like a contagious excitement that was spreading throughout the room because of the wheelchair he was being fitted for.
Here in Haiti if a child is unable or if any individual is having to be cared for at home, their family members can’t go to work or out to the market. So for them to be able to be upright and going that is a big thing that means they can work now and have the means to support themselves.
We were able to put him upright in a wheelchair that he could now self-propel across the floor and go farther distances.
Now he gets to go to school because he has the wheelchair. What a witness he’s going to be to all the kids at school because he shares what that chair came from. Not Joni & Friends, but Jesus.
About Joni and Friends
For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit www.joniandfriends.org.