Sunday, January 7, 2007

Emmanuel's Gift

It's estimated that 10% of the population of Ghana is disabled; those who reach adulthood (mothers of disabled infants are encouraged to let them die or even to kill them) end up begging on the streets to support themselves. This is a documentary about a Ghanaian man with one leg who is trying to change his country's perception and treatment of the disabled.

Emmanuel was born with a severely deformed right leg but overcame all expectations and learned to walk, run, climb coconut trees, and play soccer using crutches. (The other kids wouldn't let him play with them until he earned some money, bought his own soccer ball, and proved to them that he could really play.) Emmanuel's father abandoned him and his mother when Emmanuel was born, but his mother raised him to do everything he could to fit in and taught him that he should never beg. He could have made $10 a day begging, but instead he shined shoes in Accra and made $2 a day, with which he supported his mother and other family members.

In an effort to raise awareness in Ghana and change the widely held view that disabled people are cursed, Emmanuel rode a bike across Ghana. Since then, he's become a kind of hero there. He was also brought to the United States by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), where he rode in a publicity ride, met other disabled athletes (including an amazing 14-year-old boy with no legs who does triathlons with prosthetics), and had surgery that allowed him to have a prosthetic leg. He is still working to bring opportunities to disabled people in Ghana.

Emmanuel's Gift isn't the most well-executed film ever, but it's fascinating because of its subject. Well worth seeing.

No comments:

Post a Comment