2011 Mountainfilm in Telluride: Dr. Rick Hodes

2011 Mountainfilm in Telluride: Dr. Rick Hodes

[click “Play”, Dr. Rick Hodestalks about his work, especially about Prudence Mabhena]

 The announcement came at the closing event of Mountainfilm in Telluride, and there was not a dry eye in the Park. But its outcome remained something of cliffhanger until now. Now, at the 33rd annual Mountainfilm Festival, those of us in attendance, rapt fans of the brave young woman, get to learn the fate of Prudence Mabhena, left in the healing hands of Dr. Rick Hodes.

Dr. Rick Hodes has lived Mountainfilm’s 2011 theme, Awareness Into Action, every day of his working life.

Rick Hodes is an American doctor who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 20 years. He is the Medical Director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a 97-year-old NGO, in charge of all the Ethiopians immigrating to Israel since late-1990. Rick has also worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia, and Albania.

At the 2009 Mountainfilm Festival, Rick Hodes received the Moving Mountains Prize for the film “Making the Crooked Straight.” The film tells the story about his work helping children with severe spinal deformities in Ethiopia. In 2010, the good doctor returned to the Festival as a judge, where he met Prudence Mabhena, who performed before an SRO crowd following a screening of Roger Williams’ film about her life, “Music By Prudence.”

Thinking of Prudence, Stephen Hawking comes to mind: the extravagant gifts of both trapped inside bodies that severely constrained them. Though neither complained about the constraints. For Hawking, the diagnosis was a motor neurone disease. For Prudence, it was a rare disorder, arthrogryposis, which causes the contraction of her joints and spine. Left untreated, Prudence would have died an early death. But Rick went to work to save the young woman’s life.

Originally a colleague in Ghana was meant to perform the surgery. Ultimately, the procedure was performed at Children’s Hospital in Denver.

In an attempt to set up an interview with Dr. Rick Hodes and Prudence, Mountainfilm’s Emily Long suggested I “friend” Prudence on Facebook. She “friended” me back, but with no message. I did however, receive a message from Jim Bailey who follows Prudence on Facebook. Apparently Prudence sings with his band, Zuri. Their next gig is June 12.

That’s how we learned Prudence is doing just fine.

To learn more about how the saga of Dr. Rick Hodes and Prudence unfolded after the Mountainfilm announcement and the other ways Dr. Rick Hodes saves lives, click the “play” button and listen to his moving interview.

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