California Software Engineer Uses Talents to Help Child in Haiti

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Today in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Stevenson Joseph (12) received a RoboHand, which was given to him by Food For The Poor donor John Marshall. A prosthetics specialist, who works with the Prosthetic Lab at Bernard Mevs Hospital, which is supported by Food For The Poor, is fitting the RoboHand for Stevensons left hand only and will be secured to the wrist.

Today in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Stevenson Joseph (12) received a RoboHand, which was given to him by Food For The Poor donor John Marshall.

 

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (April 7, 2014) – Two dreams were fulfilled today, those of the giver and of the recipient, when Food For The Poor donor John Marshall delivered a prosthetic hand to a child he met last year in the Little Children of Jesus Home.

“Food For The Poor donors never cease to amaze me. When I heard what John was doing, I knew that it was truly God-inspired generosity,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. "Stevenson’s life will be very different because his life crossed paths with John Marshall.”

When Marshall met the 12-year-old child last year on a mission trip with the charity, he could not get the boy out of his mind. The child, Stevenson, had been abandoned by his mother at the home for disabled children as a 3-year-old, having been born with no fingers on one hand, and only a tiny bit of thumb and pinky finger on the other.

After Marshall met Stevenson last May, he had the child on his mind when he was reading one of his technology magazines about three weeks after they first met. Marshall read about how 3-D printers could be used to create custom-fitted prosthetics, suitable for fast growing children. The 3-D printer solution seemed tailor-made for Stevenson.

It took John nine months and two attempts to try to make the hand, using 3-D printer technology and a technique he learned from reading about South African entrepreneur Richard Van As. While Stevenson watched on Monday, Marshall completed assembly of the hand to make sure that it fit well on the child’s wrist.

“I used to do this sort of thing all the time with Legos when I was a child,” Marshall said as he completed his work on the hand at the prosthetics center in the Bernard Mevs Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Marshall and Bernard Mevs Prosthetic Engineer Thomas Iwalla laid out the prosthetic hand ultimately made by Richard Van As of RoboHand, along with additional pieces, and began to assemble Stevenson’s miracle.

Because Stevenson has some use of his right hand, he will only be fitted with the prosthetic hand on the left. Marshall said he will make a new hand about every two years as Stevenson grows. The Bernard Mevs Hospital Prosthetics Center will play an integral role in training and maintenance.

“The hand of God was a big part of this,” Marshall said. “I am only doing what was presented in front of me to do. Stevenson is handicapped in a small way, in a way that’s not as bad as some of the other children, yet his hands are holding him back. He can do so much more. He has the potential.”

Marshall headed to Haiti just as the hand was shipped from Van As in South Africa. The man and the boy reunited over the workshop table on Monday morning. It was just as Marshall envisioned. Click to see video of Stevenson trying out the hand: www.foodforthepoor.org/robotichand

“If you don’t shepherd something through from the beginning, it won’t happen. It’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to see this through to the end.”

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Kathy Skipper

Food For The Poor
Director of Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6614
kathys@foodforthepoor.com