Leon suffered a devastating spinal injury when his house collapsed on him in during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But thanks to the Haiti Hospital Appeal, which helps rehabilitate patients with spinal cord injuries, he is beginning to stand on his own feet again.
He has energy and determination. Leon wants to get stronger.
You're okay? Fatigue?
No, no, I'm not tired.
Leon is disabled. He suffered a serious spinal cord injury when his house collapsed during the earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in Haiti in January 2010.
The house started shaking. It collapsed. Everyone died, including my wife and eight children. I was the only one that survived.
Leon was left unable to stand up or walk, his wounds infected. Homeless and disabled, the staff at the Haiti Hospital Appeal has looked after Leon.
DR. PAUL TOUSSAINT [Medical Director, Haiti Hospital, Cap-Haitien]
Most of our patients were depressed when they arrived here. The first step was to rebuild their confidence, the second step was to heal their wounds, to get them back on their feet, through rehabilitation.
Now, Leon can stand up. He can even take small steps by himself. But when he stumbles, it's a reminder that his injury is still holding him back. It's the intensive physiotherapy that has helped Leon make so much progress.
Leon, you have to lift your foot to touch my hand. Hold it, hold it, lift it, and lift it even more.
Leon completes a demanding session every day.
Since you arrived, do you think you have made progress?
When I came here, I was almost dead, I couldn't move. But the hard work that I have done here has made me very strong. I am getting stronger every day.
His progress, and that of his fellow patients, has surpassed everyone's expectations. This hospital was originally designed as a maternity hospital. Now it's known locally as the Haiti Hospital Appeal, after the British charity that supports it. After the earthquake, it took in twenty-five survivors with severe spinal cord injuries.
CARWYN HILL [Chief Executive, Haiti Hospital Appeal]
Specialists from abroad and people within Haiti thought that at least 50 percent would pass away. 24 of them have been successfully rehabilitated, of them 19 have returned to their communities and we've been able to re-house about 80 percent of them.
Inclusion is encouraged through sports and games, regardless of the level of a patient's disability. Relatives and staff take part too. These activities keep them strong, motivated, and entertained. As for Leon, the strength he has found through his rehabilitation has turned his life around. He has begun a new journey, to become a disabled athlete and fulfill a dream for himself and his fellow Haitians.
I want to participate in the Olympic games in England. I would like to be part of the games. I am getting ready and working hard so that the world realizes where I come from and what I have been through.