My Visit to India December 2019By Kathryn Beevor Ambassador for Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope
I was delighted to become an Ambassador for Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope in 2019, indeed it was the dedicated work of Sarah and Victoria that sparked my desire to help some of the most vulnerable yet inspirational children in the world. I felt to truly understand I must meet the beneficiaries and see the work of the charity first-hand. We work in partnership with the charity HEAL (Health and Education for All) founded by Dr Satya Prasad Koneru. The Elizabeth Panton Artificial Limb Centre is based at Paradise Village, in Andhra Pradesh. Paradise Village is home to orphaned and underprivileged children in India and this is where I stayed. The amputees are brought to the centre to receive their care and can stay at Paradise Village when travelling long distances. They also have access to a mobile Limb Clinic via the ambulance provided by Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope.
The Limb Centre is phenomenal. The medical team are unquestionably committed to their work and strive to give each child the best mobility possible. The doctors and technicians work together to give advice and ensure limb fitting is correct. Minor procedures can be performed in their operating theatre but most operations take place in hospitals. There are now 106 amputee children who have attended the limb centre. I was looked after by Dr Prasad during my visit and it was clear the amputees’ benefit from the love extended to all the children under his care
The third day of my stay, Thursday 20th December, will remain in my memory forever and was one of the best days of my life. It was also a complete surprise. Unbeknown to me, Dr Prasad had organised the televised issue of the 100th limb in honour of my visit. I walked into the Limb Centre greeted by an excited mood of anticipation and children’s chatter. I was soon surrounded by amputees and their families who had travelled many miles to join this celebration, in fact 6 new limbs were being fitted on this day. The children were all so smiley and full of life. It was Padma Nandyala, born 02.11.10, who received the 100th prosthetic limb. This is her story: she was walking on the roadside along with her elder sister, Akhila, when they were hit by a tractor. The tractor driver was drunk. Sadly, Akhila died in the accident and Padmawas seriously injured. She was rushed to Guntur General Hospital and doctors amputated her left leg, just above the knee. Her parents are labourers and struggle to look after her. However, she now attends REEDS School (Rural Education and Economic Development Society) Challagundla, Guntur, which is a non-profit organisation and a rehabilitation centre for the physically challenged. Padma like all the other amputee children I met is amazing.
During the television broadcast family members spoke of their gratitude to the doctors at the Limb Centre and to the donors of Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope. There were tears and hugs. The children and families are so very grateful for the care we provide and it was humbling to see how the amputees cope with their disabilities almost as if their disability is a unique part of themselves which of course it is. Whilst I was there I met boys and girls of all ages. Some knew what to expect whilst for others it was their first visit and it was a little bewildering.
The children were keen to show me how they could walk and run and those who were a little shy at the beginning wanted a photo with me by the end! Dr G. Venkata Rao advised the recipients about their limb care and Ajay Kumar Kurapati (CEO for HEAL) reported on recent developments at the Limb Centre. I was thrilled to cut the pink iced cake so symbolic of our charity and share this with our families.
I cannot write in words the true effect my visit had upon me. As this was my first trip to India I saw sights of poverty and disability I wished I had never seen yet had to see to understand what poverty and disability mean to a child in India. I made a pledge to the amputees that they would not be forgotten and that I would do my best to support them through the work of our charity. It was so rewarding to see the work of Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope for myself and I feel sure it won’t be too long before I can return to meet these beautiful children again and follow their progress.