How An Oklahoma Group Has Changed The Life Of A West Africa Teen

Saturday, September 10th 2016, 12:18 pm
By: News On 6

A young man from one of the poorest regions in the world is making a big impact in Oklahoma. 

The West African native will soon return home with help from an Oklahoma nonprofit.

When people meet young Fidele for the first time they can't but help notice his warm smile.  Now, thanks to a place called Martin Bionics - his smile has just gotten a lot bigger - that's because the Oklahoma-based company just helped him to walk again.

Mike Cousineau directs the Norman-based Humanitarian organization called 1040 Initiative.  They go on missions 6,000 miles away to west Africa's Ivory Coast.  The people there speak French.

"This is National Geographic type situation.  Nothing has changed in hundreds of years," said Mike Cousineau.

The young man is Fidele Shep.  He's an Ivory Coast left leg amputee who's family shunned him five years ago. because he was no longer any good to them and because he could no longer work in the fields.

"They deemed him as like a witch or sorcerer, yeah, it's really cultural," said Bobby Jones III/1040 Initiative.

A week ago in North Carolina, prosthetic limb companies including Oklahoma City's Martin Bionics fitted Fidele with a new permanent left leg.  This week, he's touring the Sooner State.

On Thursday, Fidele stopped at Norman High School  He wanted to thank to students who--back in February--sent 300 care packages to Fidele's village back home.

"Tonight he's speaking to a sorority at OU an, oh, he's gonna like that.  Yeah, he likes the women folk," said Bobby Jones III

For this young man, who at the age of 15 has already felt a lifetime of misery, the rest of his road may just be okay.

Fidele has also been visiting other local high schools, and plans to attend OU's football game in Norman on Saturday, before heading back to his native country.