"I can keep on living"

Prunier Toussaint made his living as a truck driver, making deliveries all across Haiti. It was a good life, until one day in 2014 he was outside working on his truck when suddenly the street erupted in gunfire. In the midst of a fight he had nothing to do with, Prunier was hit by a stray bullet.

Seriously injured, he was rushed to a major hospital in Port au Prince for emergency surgery. But after the surgery, Prunier still couldn’t walk. He returned home wondering how he would support himself and his four children. Prunier remembers that his condition seemed bleak and permanent. “I couldn’t…move my legs at all really. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to move on my own again outside of my wheelchair.”

In Port-au-Prince, relying on a wheelchair means being homebound. The narrow streets are rutted and nearly impossible to wheel over, and the intense speed and congestion of the traffic make it dangerous to cross streets.

Three years after his injury, having sought out care at several different clinics in Port au Prince with little improvement, Prunier learned about our Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Center.

Prunier’s care team at SBH was optimistic about his chances for improved mobility. After several months of intensive physical therapy, it was clear that he was a good candidate for leg braces to help with walking. Thanks to our partners at Fondation Tous Ensemble, a prosthetics clinic in Les Cayes, Prunier was able to get the braces he needed. He learned to walk again with training from our physical therapy team.

Prunier working with leg braces during a physical therapy session.

Prunier working with his leg braces in a physical therapy session with Sophia Laine and Jean Charles Badette.

Prunier with his arts and crafts teacher at the SCI center

Prunier with his teacher.

Being able to walk even short distances means Prunier does not have to rely on his family to do basic daily tasks. He can be self-sufficient and help support his family again by selling the art and crafts that he has learned to make at the SCI center.

In particular, Prunier is excited about producing sandals from leather and macramé—a skill he learned in the handicrafts classes at the SCI Rehabilitation Center. Having never made clothing or crafts by hand before, Prunier is excited about his new skills; “This knowledge, how to do these crafts, will be very useful in my life at home. Crafts will help me get on my feet—go into business, and whatever I decide to do after.”

“The SCI Rehabilitation Center at St. Boniface has given me hope,” Prunier said, smiling, the day before he left Fond des Blancs to return home. “When I was at home, before, I thought my life was over. Being here, I have realized that there are many things I can do. Even though I have this injury, my life is definitely not over. I can keep living. All this is thanks to the St. Boniface Rehabilitation Center.”

Watch this short video to hear Prunier tell his story, and the impact the SCI Center has had on his life, in his own words.