Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On the Road Again...

I can’t believe my time here is coming to a close. The Rhone Alps region stole my heart long before I moved to Oregon and I still cannot ever find a good reason to leave one home except to go to my other home. I have a feeling that this pattern will repeat several more times before my ashes grace one place or the other.
But seeing as the French government has decided it’s time I go, I have to pack my bags and make my way back to Oregon. But this time it will not be a direct flight. Instead, I will be going on just about as long a road trip as possible, covering four continents over the next eight weeks.



Ten years ago my brother Andy and I created the International Rehabilitation Forum to help organize rehabilitation doctors who work primarily in low-access areas. This includes not only low-resource areas, but also rural and even disaster areas. We've run three international meetings inviting speakers from all over the globe to present papers, brain storm and share ideas with like-minded practitioners.



Whenever we meet with these groups I am invited to come to their clinics and see what is actually happening to real patients. So now, finally, I will be taking a few of them up on the offer. On Sunday I will first travel to Shkodra, Albania and see the work of the Italian Doctor Germano Pestelli. Dr. Pestelli has changed an orphanage into a working rehab clinic. Not only will I be able to visit the clinic and speak with local officials, I will also be able to talk (through an interpreter!) to fellow wheelers who most likely have never left Albania and suffer quite a bit of neglect and discrimination.



From Albania I will continue on to Accra, Ghana where I will spend nearly three weeks with several groups catering to rehabilitation medicine and disability advocacy. I am arriving just in time for their largest annual gathering of wheelchair users so hopefully we will have lots of media attention which will shine some light on the much neglected disabled population in Africa. I will also be accompanied by my guitar which will be pulled out and exercised any time I hear any African drumming.



From Ghana the trip continues all the way to Beijing where I will reunite with a gathering of the International Rehabilitation Forum during the bi-annual convention of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. Andy and I will host a small organizational meeting during the ISPRM that will set the groundwork for our 4th general meeting to be held in Chengdu in 2014.



After Beijing, it’s time to head back to the States, but before making it back to Oregon, I need to stop over in my old stomping grounds of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to check in, deprogram and play guitar for 14 straight hours at our annual 4th of July jam session.



But the purpose of all this travel is not just to check in and visit. I will be filming the raw footage that will eventually become a short documentary on the needs of rehab medicine in low-resource settings. I have been asked why I have not been more consistent in blogging on this latest adventure and the reason is that I’ve been working on film shorts. These take a tremendous amount of work, but in the end, tell a much better story. Taking into consideration the story-boarding, filming, writing, logging, video editing, recording, sound editing – sometimes even composing music, I spend close to four hours for every minute of finished video.  If you’ve got a great subject (which I always do because I pick my own subjects!) it’s a labor of love. But a labor nonetheless!



So I will try to check in from time to time while on the road, but in the meantime I would like to thank all my loyal readers (nearly 16,000 hits to date!) and I promise to publish here when everything is done and in the can.

Hope to see as many of you as possible on the road!


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