Jul 13, 2018
Filmmaker Austin Meyer was in Zambia on assignment for National Geographic when his project was unexpectedly postponed. He decided to take his camera and tour the country, looking for a story to tell in the interim. That’s how he wound up at the children’s hospital in Lusaka.
“I saw this little workshop out back,” Meyer told The Atlantic. “I walked over and the first person I saw was David Miti, sitting on his bench, making crutches. When I realized he had no legs, the poetry of the moment hit me, and I couldn’t wait to hear his story.”
Miti’s story is one of radical acceptance. At 34, after building a successful and enjoyable career as a cab driver and carpenter, he contracted gangrene; at the hospital, he found out that in order to survive, he’d have to have both of his legs amputated.
“It pained me,” Miti says in Meyer’s short documentary, The Carpenter. “I nearly committed suicide. I thought that my life had ended.”
It hadn’t. Instead, Miti found an opportunity to lean into his disability—by giving back to those in his position. “Life can change any time, and you have to accept it the way it comes to you,” Miti says. He now uses his carpentry skill to make braces, crutches, and other devices for disabled children.
“From a distance, it can be easy to view Mr. Miti as a helpless victim,” said Meyer. “But he is anything but that. Mr. Miti is a strong, independent, and resilient individual who turned his disease into a calling to serve others. His double amputation did not cripple him. It fueled him. And through his carpentry work, it freed others.”
Witnessing Miti’s transformation changed the way Meyer views disabilities. “Now, I don’t assume a disability is an eternal setback, but rather, just another one of life’s obstacles that, when accepted and overcome, can propel one forward to accomplish even greater things in life.”
Author: Emily Buder
About This Series
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.