Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Emmanuel's Gift": a boy fights for the disabled in Ghana; Oprah narrates

Oprah Winfrey narrates most of the 2005 documentary “Emmanuel’s Gift”, directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern. This film tells the story of a boy born in Ghana with a vestigial, deformed right leg and who went on to raise money for disabled people in the country with bicycle tours. ‘

In Ghana, 10% of the people are disabled, and the culture stigmatizes them, meaning that many wind up in the streets begging.  As a boy, Emmanuel  Yedoah left home to go to Accra to work shining shoes to raise money for his mother – filial responsibility or piety is very strong in these cultures – and became interested in cycling.  I was amazed that this is possible with only one leg.  Emmanuel took inspiration from an American athlete Jim MacLaran, who would be gravely injured in two separate cycling accidents. Emmanuel would eventually have surgery in the United States to remove the leg and be fitted with an effective prosthesis.

The last part of the film discusses the social and political climate in Ghana, remarkable in that it is considered one of the most democratic in Africa.  Emmanuel is able to raise funds and awareness to provide facilities and social respect for the disabled in some communities. 

Emmauel married in California and has one child, according to the end credits.

The official site is here. The film is distributed by First Look and produced by “Lookalike”.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of Ghana.  
The film makes me consider how I can “hide” behind moral stigma in order not to feel more for people in his situation than I do. It can get personal.

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