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Documentary Features Gift of Hope for Disabled

  • Sam Peskin

The documentary about a disabled boy from Ghana premiered February 3 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, in California. The film is called Emmanuel's Gift. Famous American boxer Muhammad Ali called it a gift for all humanity.

For Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, it's not his leg that makes him unique, its what's in his heart. "When I was born, I was a deformed child, my mother's friend advised her to abandon me or to kill me," said Emmanuel.

In Ghana, when you're born with a deformed leg, like Emmanuel, you're considered cursed. You're expected to be a beggar. The only begging Emmanuel did came in the form of a letter to the Challenged Athlete Foundation in San Diego.

Emmanuel's request was for a bicycle to ride across Ghana. He wanted to take a stand for the rights of the disabled. After his request was answered, Emmanuel was able to ride 375 miles around Ghana with just one leg, drawing the attention of a king.

"I didn't give up. I wanted to continue to do, and I wanted to reach my goal," said Emmanuel.

After his unprecedented ride through Ghana, doctors at Loma Linda University Medical School flew him in and amputated his deformed leg and then fitted him with a prosthetic. However, coming from Ghana where the average yearly income is just $400, a new leg simply is not a priority.

Soon after, doctors learned that Emmanuel shined shoes for just two dollars a day in order to support his family. "And literally, the secretaries in the office went into their pockets and wanted to give the money so that he could come over," said filmmaker Lisa Lax.

Ms. Lax found Emmanuel's story so intriguing, she and her sister produced a documentary as a labor of love. The movie, entitled Emmanuel's Gift is narrated by American TV personality Oprah Winfrey.

Emmanuel's gift is not what he has received. It's the hope he has given to the people like him.