I sometimes forget.
I forget that I am privileged. I forget that I am blessed. I forget that I live in a country where I needn't hide because of my disability. I live in a country where I can live independently, work in the community, have relationships, become a parent if I so choose, and live my life to my highest ability.
Oh sure, it's not perfect. Almost unfathomably, eugenics laws only ended in my home state of Indiana in my own lifetime.
I simply can't imagine.
But still, despite the inherent challenges that came with being born with spina bifida in 1965 I'm amazed at the opportunities and gifts that have surrounded my life. There's stigma, sure, but it's different in the U.S. and you know that, really know that, if you've ever been in any one of a myriad of countries where disability becomes a death sentence even if you survive.
You are stigmatized in the community. You won't, in many cases, ever marry. You won't go to school or work. You may be institutionalized or you may simply find yourself holed up in some isolated room as the shame of your family.
It's a reality and it's a reality over and over and over again.
How can I possibly forget how amazing my life really is?
Centered around the work of CURE, Modern Day Miracles is a 46-minute celebration of faith, hope, compassionate medicine, and the angels in skin who do God's work in many of the world's neediest nations and for many of the world's neediest children.
Started in 1996 by Scott and Sally Harrison, the first CURE hospital opened a mere two years later. Since 1998, CURE has established a presence in 26 countries while performing more than 196,000 procedures. More than 119,000 children have been treated at CURE clubfoot partner clinics, while surgeons trained by CURE have performed more than 12,000 procedures to treat hydrocephalus and spina bifida.
Hydrocephalus and spina bifida - I have both of them. Wow.
Presented by CURE International, Modern Day Miracles truly only begins to tell the CURE story of its angels in skin - human, flawed yet immensely gifted and compassionate doctors, nurses, custodial staff, and support staff who've committed themselves to doing whatever it takes to restore broken bodies and, in many cases, broken spirits.
Modern Day Miracles most specifically follows three children with correctable disabilities living in the Dominican Republic, Niger and the Philippines who find healing in hospitals of CURE International. The stories are richly human and unquestionably inspirational, though I will confess I occasionally, at least for fleeting moments, found that the film crossed the line into disability shaming. But, then again, it's important to remember that the disability experience is vastly different in the U.S. from how it is in the Dominican Republic, Niger, or the Philippines.
Modern Day Miracles has screened at multiple film fests including Christian Worldview Film Festival, Inspired Faith Film Festival, and International Christian Film Festival. The film's focus on faith is absolute and, as well, it is important to remember that the film does focus exclusively on the work of CURE International. Modern Day Miracles includes appearances by Christian singer Chris Tomlin and popular Christian athlete/advocate Tim Tebow, the latter whose foundation contributed greatly to the organization's latest hospital, the Tebow CURE Hospital. However, while the celeb appearances are just dandy it's the heart and soul of this film to tell the stories of the children and this is where the film's producer, Luke Broersma, really excels. Utilizing exceptional lensing and relaxed, observational filmmaking, Broersma and his cast and crew have created a film that is endlessly inspirational and remarkably informative.
You'll watch the film and you'll find yourself wanting to sit down and watch it again.
I sure did.
Modern Day Miracles will likely impact you as it did me, though perhaps not quite as uniquely given my own diagnoses that closely align with the work of CURE International. By film's end, I found myself grateful for their work and contemplating how to support it with plans going through my head even as I sit here writing this review.
For more information on CURE International, visit the organization's website at CURE International.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic