Several Honduran residents were given the opportunity to walk again thanks to the assistance of two Moneta residents. Last November, Ken Jones and Verne Baker joined the nonprofit Hope to Walk to provide leg prostheses at a newly opened clinic in Honduras.
“Working with amputees has given me a new zeal to continue going to third world countries with this prosthetic project,” said Jones, a retired doctor. “As a Christian nonprofit organization, the goal of Hope to Walk is always to show God’s love for these souls while restoring their ability to work and provide for their families.”
One of the people Jones helped was a man named Mauricio whose leg was severed when a taxi crashed into him and his sister while they were riding a motorbike. Mauricio’s sister was killed in the incident.
“His expression caught my heart,” said Jones of first meeting with Mauricio when he came to Hope to Walk. “There was an expression of anxiety and hope at the same time; he was clearly nervous about the possibility of not getting a new leg, but I could see hope in his eyes.”
After nine hours, Jones said Mauricio was able to walk out of the clinic with a prosthetic leg, and Mauricio was planning to return to work because of it.
“That really got me,” Jones said. “Personally witnessing an amputee walking again for the first time is an incredible experience for the family and also for the Hope to Walk team. And realizing that the provision of this very sturdy, functional prosthesis to them — free of charge — provides an immediate, tangible and permanent impact on their lives, restoring their ability to work and provide for their family, is mind-boggling.”
Baker, a former hospital administrator and a cardiac perfusionist, also connected with several Honduran residents during the trip, including Maria Irene, a grandmother who lost her leg when she fell off a train in 2002.
Irene told Baker that she was a passenger on a cargo train on her way to America. She said drug cartels who controlled the trains would throw people off if they didn’t pay a fee. Unable to pay, Irene said when she was thrown from the train, her leg was crushed by it.
“She laid beside the train tracks until other family members were able to get off the train and come back to help her,” Baker said. “She did not receive any medical care for 30 days, so it is a miracle she is even alive.”
Because Irene had not walked for nearly 15 years, Baker said her leg muscles had atrophied. “She was somewhat apprehensive, not daring to hope that the new leg would work,” he said. “But once it was connected, she offered a huge, beautiful smile as she cruised out of the clinic.”
Both Baker and Jones provided the leg prostheses at the clinic, which is in Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. Traditional prostheses can cost thousands of dollars in the U.S. and need to be replaced periodically due to wear and tear, in addition to changes in a person’s condition. Baker said the Hope to Walk prostheses cost less than $100 and are built with materials suited to the rugged environment they will be worn in.
PVC pipes, reinforced with wooden dowels, are used to create a prosthetic leg’s shaft, which is attached to a wooden heel, made from industrial pallets. A forefoot made of crepe material is flexible, allowing it to bend with a person’s gait. Two sizes — one for children and another for adults — are made and then adjusted to each individual.
Jones said customizing, cutting and grinding the prostheses on location eliminates the need to bring a large inventory of legs and feet. The entire procedure can be done in remote villages without electricity, using battery-operated power tools.
Hope to Walk relies on donations to operate, Jones said. Funding is needed for the manufacturing and assembling of the prostheses, as well as training locals to measure, fit and train the amputees.
“Hope to Walk is a new, grassroots organization, and currently has only a small donor base,” Jones said. “With adequate support, Hope to Walk has the potential to make an enormous impact on thousands of desperate amputees with no hope. A donation of $100 will allow one soul to rise from his or her wheelchair and walk, changing their lives forever.”
More information on Hope to Walk is at www.hopetowalk.org.