TAPACHULA, Mexico – In a workshop in southern Mexico, Eber, a Honduran migrant, observes the manufacturing process of a prosthetic limb, anxiously awaiting his own prosthetic leg, which will be donated to him in a few weeks with the help of a program for migrants who were amputated while riding on a network of Mexican freight trains, dubbed “La Bestia.”
Eber was seriously injured near the northern city of Saltillo while attempting to board La Bestia, which is used by thousands of migrants each year to travel through Mexico, usually on their way to the United States.
“I couldn’t hold on because the train was going too fast and I fell onto the tracks,” Eber told EFE.
Eber is now being assisted by a program organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which provides prostheses and physical therapy for amputated migrants in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula.
Both Eber and Faraon, a Mexican migrant who fell off La Bestia in October, were amputated above the knee.
Faraon hopes to see his prosthetic leg start to be manufactured in the next few days and expects it to help him find work.
“If I am able to walk with it, I will be able to open a business or do something to make a living,” he said.
Eber, who is only 24 years old and now has a humanitarian visa to stay in Mexico, hopes to finish his physical therapy and follow his plan to go find work in the northern city of Monterrey.
The artificial limbs manufactured with the help of the ICRC program are made with polypropylene, “a material that is very light, easy to use and resistant,” Jorge Luis Antonio Alvarez, owner of Ortopedia Orthimex, the company making the prostheses, told EFE.
Filippo Gatti, deputy health coordinator of the ICRC in Mexico and Central America, said that other prosthesis and physical therapy programs were being implemented in places such as Afghanistan and Syria, where thousands of people have been injured because of war.
In Mexico, the program was put in place to assist migrants, who often do not have access to health services.
Last year, the program assisted close to one hundred migrants, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
One of the program’s challenges is to help amputated migrants reintegrate and lead productive lives.
Many of them are “parents or people who want to have a family, but they don’t know how to go on because they don’t see how they could support their families being disabled,” Gatti said.