After a long day at one of CURE’s outpatient clinics, the team wait for one last patient.
“She is usually late, but she always shows up nonetheless. She comes from far.” Said the Physiotherapist.
A couple more minutes go by with no one in sight. Then, from across the road, a figure approaches walking with a sturdy limp.
The figure finally arrives; an old woman carrying a toddler on her back. She takes a deep sigh and settles on a bench, unwrapping the toddler and placing her on her lap. You could see the exhaustion on her face. The old woman was wearing well-worn trainers, proof of the long journey that she had just entailed. It is only at second glance you notice that her left leg is a prosthetic.
Once settled, the physiotherapist examines the toddler; her clubfoot treatment is going well. She has come to CURE with bilateral clubfoot and is being treated with the Ponseti method. Over the duration of seven weeks, they will come and visit clinic every week to have a plaster cast applied which will gently manipulate the foot into the correct position. After the course of casting is complete, the toddler will be given a brace, which must be worn for two-three months to avoid clubfoot relapse.
Grandma Asmaa suffered with every mother’s worst nightmare, she experienced one of her children dying.
“My daughter fell sick for a very long period of time, and we never knew what was wrong. Every time we went to the hospital, they removed blood from her system, but we never knew why,” said Grandma Asmaa. “She finally contracted tuberculosis and died, leaving this young girl on her own. She was just a month old.”
After the passing of her daughter, Grandma Asmaa is now single-handedly raising Chiwa, a baby who lost both her parents at a very tender age. She said that it would have been easier if Chiwa had a father to help take care of her. Grandma Asmaa explained what happened to Chiwa’s father. “Sadly, her father was taken away by ‘the darkness’. When asked what the darkness was, she explained that he fell victim to alcoholism. “He drunk himself to death. He drunk spirits on an empty stomach and that is what killed him,”.
She looked down at her granddaughter sitting on her lap. Deep lines started forming on her forehead and she takes a deep breath, slowly cradling the baby closer to her chest. “When Chiwa’s mother died, Chiwa was just a month old. I had to buy milk for her to feed. I had to sell all the goats I owned for her to be healthy.” said Grandma Asmaa. “I live in a village that is three hours away, and transport to bring us to the clinic is difficult to find, but I know it’s so important for Chiwa.” Grandma Asmaa explains.
Grandma Asmaa cares for Chiwa and nine other children. Chiwa was born with bilateral clubfoot and had a successful tenotomy, which she received a score of “zero” on her exam, which in the world of clubfoot treatment is a very good thing.
When Grandma Asmaa was asked about her leg, she smiled. “It was the cancer. I had a small wound on my leg that would not heal. When I went to the hospital in the city, I was told that I had the disease and it was in my leg. If they did not cut it out, it would affect the rest of my body and I would die. So, I asked them to cut it out.”
Grandma Asmaa has had her share of struggles over the last few years—the hardest being losing her child. Bringing Chiwa for treatment consecutively every week has not been easy, but it is a task she is determined to complete so that Chiwa may go to school and escape living a lifetime with clubfoot.
Chiwa and her Grandmother will continue to make the same journey until Chiwa’s clubfoot treatment is complete.
Many families that come to CURE are in similar positions as Chiwa and her Grandmother. They will set off to make the long journey in order for their children to receive medical treatment. In many cases families simply cannot afford the travel expenses which sadly means many children’s disabilities are left untreated.
Clubfoot can’t be prevented, but we have a proven method of treatment and a program that gets results. Now it’s a simple matter of numbers: if we continue to grow and expand our treatment program, we’ll see a day where no child is born without access to clubfoot treatment. Join us!