Paul Sugg, director of EastPoint Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc., packed for a mission trip last summer to minister to people of Ivory Coast, West Africa.
He had no intentions on taking his prosthetic equipment.
“I’ll go out to Africa and do a prospect trip and we’ll see if it’s worth us doing this. I don’t know if we can provide artificial limbs without a facility,” Sugg told fellow missionary and CEO of the 1040 Initiative, Mike Cousineau.
Cousineau reminded Sugg of the mere two-week trip, and asked him to grab the equipment for the possibility of providing someone with a prosthetic device.
So in 2016, Sugg packed his equipment, and he, Cousineau and Louis Brown, a fellow prosthetist from EastPoint, made the 3-day trek to Tanda, Ivory Coast, West Africa to fabricate prostheses in a small classroom in a school.
During this time, they fitted 18 amputees – one being 15-year-old Sib Pampan Fidele – with artificial limbs.
Little did Sugg know at the time, his one-year non-profit organization EP Legacy was destined to live on.
Fidele was a small young man,” Sugg said. “Our equipment was for adult amputees, so to fit him with an artificial limb, we really needed to make a device with equipment we did not have with us.”
Sugg and Brown made Fidele a temporary prosthesis, but Cousineau began to think about having the young amputee visit the U.S. to build him a custom-made artificial leg.
Fidele grew up in a small village near Doropo, Ivory Coast in West Africa. His father died when he was young. With the death of his father and the abandonment of his mother, his aunt and uncle graciously took him into their home, but at 8 years old, Fidele noticed swelling in his left foot. He had been working as a laborer for his uncle in the cocoa fields. The family tried traditional medicine which did not work.
After four years with no improvement, American doctors provided a clinic near Fidele’s home, and they saw him for the first time when they determined that Fidele’s leg above his knee had to be amputated to save his life.
After his amputation and recovery, he returned to his uncle’s home. He was then rejected by his uncle for having only one leg, so Fidele moved in with his sister and her husband. He found himself – as a 12-year-old amputee in despair and wanted to end his life.
Fidele flew to Kinston in September of 2016, and he received a new prosthesis at EastPoint, located at 310 Airport Road. Sugg looked at the leg and wished a prosthetic lab had been stationed in the Ivory Coast during the mission trip.
“A lot has changed within the past year,” Fidele said. “By the Grace of God, I now have a prosthesis, and I am no longer an orphan.” He was adopted into a pastor’s family.
Fidele will visit Kinston to share his story and help other amputees in his homeland.
During the “Fidele Tour 2017,” Fidele will tour the U.S. and make stops in four different states. One of his stops will be in Kinston, NC, September 20-24. During his stay here, several events will take place at various locations such as EastPoint Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc., Bethel Free Will Baptist Church, The Exchange and the Kinston Rotary Club. Sunday night will conclude with a finale at Bethel Church for a church-wide community event. The events will bring awareness to the project and will raise funds for a bilingual academy as well as a prosthetics lab for others like Fidele in Africa.
Sugg said money raised during Fidele’s four-state tour to North Carolina; Fresno and San Jose, California; Hurricane, West Virginia; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will provide for the transformation of two 40-foot long, 8-foot wide shipping containers into a patient care and prosthetic lab for the people in the Ivory Coast.
Presently, no such facility exists in this region of the country.
Sugg will provide staff yearly to do a clinic there and would like to bring over some of the Ivorian people to train in his facility in Kinston. He hopes this would allow them to see patients throughout the year.
Sugg and Cousineau said the money raised will also go toward Fidele’s education. Cousineau said Fidele recently graduated from the third grade at the top of his class and will skip the fourth grade to automatically move into the fifth grade at age 16.
“If all we had done was to give him a leg and left him in the bush, well, we gave him a little bit of mobility, but what have we done for him?” Cousineau asked. “But now, for him and others like him, education and healthcare are weapons by which you can dig out of poverty.”
Sugg also said, “By contributing to the project, folks in Kinston and North Carolina can be proud of the fact that they will be empowering the disabled. Their efforts will completely change the lives of people in the Ivory Coast who deserve mobility so they can care for themselves and their families.”
EP Legacy and EastPoint have already visited Ivory Coast for the past two years and have made 30 prostheses.
To help Fidele raise money for his education and for the transformation of the shipping containers, visit www.eplegacyinc.com or follow us on Facebook. You can also call EP Legacy at 252-286-3668 or EastPoint Prosthetics at 252-522-3278 for more information. Stop by and see the progress on the containers at 310 Airport Rd in Kinston.