|Director:||Nancy Stern Lisa Lax and,|
|Starring:||Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, and narrated by Oprah Winfrey|
Of the estimated 20 million people in Ghana, West Africa, some 2 million are disabled many with deformities arising at birth or during childhood. Diseases like polio still run rampant causing children to lose the ability to walk. The culture of the country treats these deformities as if they are a curse and little to no effort is made to protect the rights of disabled citizens. Thus the streets are littered with persons with disabilities begging to stay alive.
One Ghanaian, Emmanuel, chose not to beg and instead refused to allow his disability to hold him back. Born with one deformed leg (lacking one of the bones), Emmanuel makes a living ironically enough by shining shoes. Without medical attention or other modern conveniences, he makes his way around by using crutches even playing soccer on crutches. In time, Emmanuel will learn to ride a bike and attempt to ride across his country to raise awareness for his fellow disabled citizens. But “Emmanuel’s Gift” the movie covers more than just Emmanuel’s challenging and amazing trek by bike across his land. This touching documentary follows Emmanuel’s visit to America where he must decide whether to take advantage of modern medical advances that may enable him to walk on two legs.
By carefully chronically a very critical time in young Emmanuel’s life, co-Directors and sisters, Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern, have fashioned a moving motion picture. American audiences will be shocked by the treatment of disabled Ghanaians. Emmanuel’s story affected me deeply. In the devoloped world, it is easy to take for granted laws that protect persons with disabilities. But in developing countries, passing laws that give equal rights to those with disabilities is a low priority. At one point in “Emmanuel’s Gift,” governmental representatives of Ghana admit that they have other things that take precedence. At the end of the film, we learn that a disability act sits in the Ghanaian legislature still seeking passage into law.
Narrated by Oprah Winfrey, “Emmanuel’s Gift” is a wonderfully inspiring film about overcoming disabilities and not forgetting others who also share your problems. Emmanuel’s fight for persons with disabilities in Ghana continues.