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Helping Others to Help Themselves

  1. KUMI COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FEBRUARY 2020 DIARYSaturday 8 February 2020My words cannot describe today’s wheelchair distribution adequately enough to make you feel as though were actually present. It was Day Two of helping these people to change their lives and those of their families. Walking up the hospital road towards the hospital, I passed an old man hoeing the weeds between his sweet potato seedlings, his radio helping him through the day. Just to watch him gave me backache but this was only the beginning of his day’s labours. I stopped to communicate but not with words; surprising how one can understand another without words! Saturday and the hospital administration offices were closed but the Orthopaedic Workshop was most definitely open for business! Soon, the stage was set and the day commenced. A pick-up drew up outside and babies, children, the elderly were carried into the open reception area. Adults crawled on all fours and many limped in and all were hoping we would be able to help them. Once registered, they moved on to the next step which was an assessment by a physiotherapist who formulated a plan. Wheelchairs would be wheeled from the store, fitted for good seating and adapted accordingly. The sound of the “techies” cutting the foam for the cushions came from inside and both the hospital staff and WFTW team worked as one. One by one, the physios would be satisfied with the end results which may take minutes or even an hour or so and the very happy recipient would then wait till the end of the day to be taken home in the pick-up. One old lady had travelled 150 miles, received her chair and then her bible from the pastor. She had one more expectation as she had hoped we could help relieve her knee pain. On examination, I could feel the crackling of an arthritic knee with little hope of relief apart from a replacement so how could she be helped? These people are always expectant of receiving medication and, if it were not the weekend, I would have referred her to the outpatient department. Instead, I asked Antony, the physiotherapist, to attend to her and she duly left with the official hospital assessment form and a prescription for the drugs. A contented woman indeed! Another, a man who claimed to be 79 and who had had his leg amputated below the knee due to diabetes came for a wheelchair. He looked sturdy and told us that he had been at school with the President but the age difference seemed to contradict this. I asked him if he had ever had an artificial limb and he was surprised to find that Kumi Hospital could provide him with one. Benjamin who fabricates the limbs assessed him for suitability and the go-ahead was agreed with the man willing to pay for it. Now, the question of him having a wheelchair came up and would he need one if he had a leg and could walk? This suggestion was swiftly quashed and he had no intention of leaving without the chair. I left with the sun descending and as the lorry and pick-up were being loaded with the people and their chairs. The rest of the team would continue with their work until the last person had been attended to. I was meeting Francis to arrange the team’s well-earned day out next Thursday. Their request is to paddle a couple of dug-outs to Tisai island but more of this later in the week. The stories of the children are too numerous to write about in my early morning diary as today alone could be a whole chapter in a book. I shall finish by including a few photos which, again, do not capture the atmosphere of the occasion.

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