Most of us can't imagine jumping rope without legs, or using a foot to hold a toothbrush because we are armless. These are just two activities performed regularly by the children featured in Two Good Feet: A Photographic Documentary of Physically Challenged Children (Lantern Books, 2004; www.lanternbooks.com; 800-856-8664).
In 40 vibrant color photos, photographer Marc-Yves Regis I portrays the residents and students of St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The institution, a school and medical facility, was founded in 1944 by North American members of the Episcopal Sisters of St. Margaret. Some 200 young people live at St. Vincent's, and another 100 attend day classes and activities.
Ironically, Regis grew up two miles from St. Vincent's but knew nothing of it. (Physically disabled people aren't mainstreamed in Haiti and receive little public attention.) Later, living in Connecticut, he learned about the institution from members of his congregation, St. James Episcopal in West Hartford, which supports the center. He visited and determined to document the children's lives, which he has done for five years.
To accompany the photographs, Regis wrote poems that tell even more about the children's conditions and feelings. He captures both the joy and casualness with which they write, draw or play dominoes with their feet; and walk or dance, footless.
I asked Regis if Haiti's recent political turmoil has affected the center. He said the facility sustained no physical damage, although some teachers couldn't travel to work for a couple of weeks. The already prohibitive cost of food and medicine, if available, rose further.
This book would make a good teaching tool, especially for children's Sunday school classes.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers