Tuesday, March 21, 2017
The Siena College e-NABLE team is changing lives again. The group responsible for building a prosthetic arm for Jack Carder, a 5-year-old boy from Columbus, Ohio, and 9-year-old Karissa Mitchell of Stillwater, New York, recently went global, building a prosthetic arm for Veronica in Uganda.
At just a few months old, Veronica was sleeping on an old mat made from woven palm trees when her sister lit a match to light an oil lamp. Part of the match broke off, landing on Veronica and catching her, the mat and a blanket on fire. Veronica sustained severe burns all over her body and her arm had to be amputated as a result of the accident.
Little did Veronica know, halfway across the globe, Siena’s e-NABLE club would hear her story.
In the summer of 2015, Dr. Manny Cirenza ’90, a Siena graduate, opened his mail to see copy of the Siena News Magazine, featuring e-NABLE’s work with Jack Carder. Dr. Cirenza sent an email to Alyx Gleason ‘17, president of the Siena e-NABLE team, hoping the group may be the key to helping Veronica.
Cirenza works closely with local volunteer non-profit organization, The Giving Circle. The Giving Circle met Veronica when they visited Kagoma Gate, Uganda’s poorest village, and were instantly amazed by what an inspiring young girl she was. Over the past two years, the Uganda-based team kept a close watch over Veronica as concern developed that her mother was growing increasingly unstable. Last summer, Veronica was taken to live at the Koi Koi House Orphanage after worry that her mother may attempt to sell her into human trafficking.
Also that summer, Gleason and Miranda Marnes ’17, vice president of Siena’s chapter of e-NABLE, met with Dr. Cirenza and The Giving Circle founder, Mark Bertrand to learn more about their work in Uganda and Veronica’s story. Gleason and Marnes instructed Dr. Cirenza and Bertrand on how to take Veronica’s measurements and asked them to send photographs when they returned to Uganda later in the summer.
Despite the past accomplishments of the e-NABLE team, building a prosthetic arm for Veronica posed some new challenges. When building the prosthetic arm for Karissa Mitchell, the team relied on measurements. Since Karissa was local, she was able to come to Siena so that they could ensure their measurements were accurate. When building the arm for Veronica, e-NABLE had to rely entirely on photographs and measurements provided by Dr. Cirenza and Bertrand. Luckily, the team was already familiar with the sizing process for a girl Veronica’s age, as they used the same arm design for Karissa.
“With every arm, we have the nervousness that it will not fit. However, we try to take as many precautions that we can to ensure it helps the recipient and gives them more confidence,” said Gleason.
e-NABLE made three different-sized prosthetic arms for Veronica, taking into account that she is still growing. Since Dr. Cirenza and Bertrand only travel to Uganda two or three times a year, e-NABLE wanted to make sure that Veronica’s arm was the perfect fit for different stages of life.
“It was the best feeling watching the video to see that [Veronica] was actually able to bend the fingers of one of the prosthetics that we sent. Veronica is such a sweet and happy little girl.”
Five of Siena’s e-NABLE team members will travel to Uganda with the Giving Circle this summer on a mission trip, where they will be able to meet Veronica and learn more about The Giving Circle’s work.
e-Nable is a team, and could not be possible without each and every member. The Spring 2017 members include: Miranda Marnes, Kristin Ludwicki, Alex Warn, Kenny Norman, Kristen Connors, Michelle Lieu, Gabby Albano, Alyx Gleason, Julia Dunbar, Cham Warnakulasuriya, Karla Perez, Jamie Bedard, Rachael Mahar, Brian Valtin, Zachary Morton, Sara Mahar, Graziano Vernizzi and Dr. Matt Bellis.