It is dreams come true and relief from societal stigma as amputees, mostly bomb blast victims of the Boko Haram conflict in the North East are given opportunity to walk again.
Hundreds of amputees who lost the hope of ever walking again are now given lifelines, courtesy of the Prosthetic Rehabilitation Programme (PRP) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Domiciled at Dala Orthopedic Hospital in Kano State, PRP is an initiative of ICRC aimed at rehabilitating amputees of bomb blast and other explosions through the provision of free artificial limbs to support them to return to their dignity and normal lives.
Available statistics show that no fewer than 608 amputees of bomb blast, bullet wounds and other explosions from the North East and Kano State benefitted from the programme since 2016.
A visit to Kano State to interact with some of the beneficiaries attested to the extent at which the programme contributed to the restoration of dignity of the amputees, their livelihoods and dreams.
Rabiu Saminu, a 51-year-old taxi driver is one of the survivors of the Nov. 14, 2014 bomb blast at the Dala Central Mosque, Kano State.
He narrated his ordeal and how he survived the attack in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano.
He said that the attack, which claimed hundreds of lives, left him without legs.
Narrating his ordeal, he said: “as a driver, I lost my source of livelihood as a result of my disability and denied other opportunities because of my condition.
“After the bomb blast, I was taken to National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala (NOHD) in Kano for treatment.
“After treatment at the hospital, I was referred to a
team working in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Limb Workshop for prosthetics and orthotics at NOHD.”
He said it was the centre that fitted artificial legs for him and after a few days of exercise and monitoring, he could walk again.
He said “since I got the artificial legs, I could do my chores unattended and I feel normal.’’
“The stigma and discrimination I suffered after the first treatment also stopped and my dignity and source of livelihood restored; thanks to ICRC Prosthetic Rehabilitation Programme.’’
Another beneficiary of the programme is
10-year-old Ibrahim Maidoki, who lost hope of walking again as a result of infection that led to amputation of his two legs in February 2019.
His father, Yaro Maidoki, said he used to carry Ibrahim on his back to school at Danbagina Primary School, Kano and leave him at the mercy of friends to support him for his daily activities.
“It was a painful experience for us to see our son in this condition; the disability affected his relationship with his peers as he also suffered stigmatisation.
“Ibrahim, who likes playing football can no longer play with his mates as a result of the amputation.
“However, when we took him to ICRC Prosthetic and Orthotic Centre at NOHD Kano and got his two legs fixed with artificial limbs; he can now play football with his classmates.’’
Binta Usman, a 23-year-old woman who lost her legs to poliomyelitis at the age of four years, was excited that she could now walk and even ride tricycle with the support given to her at the centre.
She was assisted with orthotics devices to support her weak limbs so she could walk again.
Usman is a graduate of School of Health Science and
part-time staff of medical dispensary, administering drugs and injections to patients.
She said “I am happy that I am back to work. I will
like to go back to school for my degree and study Pharmacy. I can go far in life with this support and my dream will be achieved.’’
Another beneficiary, Bashir Rabiu, a 22-year-old man residing in Bichi Local Government of Kano State had a case of bilateral amputation and could not walk again.
Rabiu said he lost the hope of walking again until a friend directed him to the ICRC centre, where he got artificial limbs.
He explained that “after I got my new limbs, ICRC supported me with N80,000 grant to start a poultry business.
“ICRC also supported me with transportation stipend and feeding during my rehabilitation and also promised to help me to grow my business.’’
Meanwhile, ICRC’s Ortho–Prosthetist, Ms Idah Kadyamatimba, who heads the centre, shares her experience on some of the difficult cases handled.
She said “the centre received and attended to many people with different challenges; some were victims of bomb blast, while others had polio or diabetes and had their limbs amputated.
“People from all walks of life come to the centre for artificial limbs and we take them through the journey to
see them back on their feet.
“They come with different challenges but they go back happy and hopeful.
“For instance, Ibrahim Maidoki’s father carried the 10-year-old boy on his back to the centre on June 17, and
he was measured and the first fitting done on June 21; and
on June 26, he was provided with artificial limbs.’’
According to her, the centre handles no fewer than 25 prosthetic fittings in a month, using polyprolene technology, which is light and allows the beneficiaries to move freely.
Kadyamatimba encouraged people living with disability to visit the centre and be assisted, saying “disability due to whatever reason should not be seen as inability; there is ability in disability.’’
Dr Mohammed Salihu, the Medical Director, NOHD urged Nigerians to support people living with disability.
He said “those who are disabled today did not plan for it. They just found themselves in that situation by accident and it can happen to anyone.
“Therefore, we need to rally round those who are physically challenged and give them maximum support for them to be part of the society.’’
As the world celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3, experts urged development partners, non-governmental
organisations, governments at all levels and well-meaning Nigerians to emulate ICRC by supporting this group.
They said such support would go a long way in restoring the people’s dignity, removing stigma, discrimination and sources of their livelihoods.
**If used, please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).