Our new partnership in Liberia is with Williette Safehouse, an organisation introduced to us by the British ambassador – and friend to ELoH – David Belgrove. This partnership is very much in its infancy; but with Rita Stryker, who runs Williette, we are already helping ten child amputees across Liberia. At the moment we are ‘only’ educating and providing counselling – and hope very soon to providing medical care, and prosthetic support too.
- Access to mobility: we provide access to prosthetics or other mobility devices (crutches, wheelchairs), surgeries and aftercare to ensure comfortable use. We are committed to providing medical support to each individual child until it stops growing.
- Access to education: we support the integration of child amputees into schools, by paying for school fees and associated costs (books, uniforms) for one year, before enrolling families in the Family Business Scheme. We ensure admission in suitable institutions, from nursery school to university level. Additionally, some students are enrolled in skills training courses, ranging from IT studies to vocational training as electricians and tailors.
- Access to counselling: the social work component recognises that each of the beneficiaries is likely to face individual barriers in their homes, in their education, and in combatting their disabilities with some having struggled considerably due to stigma or trauma. We provide individual, family and group counselling.
- Fighting against stigma: Cultural stigmas are part of the reason why child amputees are at a greater risk than the average child in Liberia of not receiving an education. We therefore engage with communities and the broader public through radio programmes and stakeholder meetings to educate the public about the rights of the disabled and discourage discrimination.
Why is our work important?
Liberia is among the 15 least developed countries in the world according to the Human Development Index and continues to struggle with its post-war recovery. There exists no accurate data on the number of child amputees. The fact that there is no reliable information available is a clear sign of how sadly neglected child amputees’ problems are: there is only limited statutory support available for those suffering from amputation.
A 1997 survey sponsored by UNICEF found that more than 16% of the Liberian population lives with a disability, the majority of those being physically disabled. Today, it is estimated that these numbers have grown due to the country’s civil war.
Despite this, there is no organisation in Liberia working particularly with child amputees. However, an assessment carried out by ELoH and our previous partner, Street Child, in June 2012 identified that there was substantial need to address this issue, as child amputees are currently among the most marginalised in a society struggling with endemic poverty. They often end up in orphanages or on the streets, where they are at a great risk of violence and exploitation.
To read more visit our country profiles about Liberia, India and Sierra Leone.
Special thanks goes to the Making a Difference Committee at Accenture and all those who sponsored Victoria and Sarah running the London Marathon both of which provided substantial funding to get this project off the ground.
» To learn more about the children we support, read about Momo and Victoria, two of our beneficiaries from Liberia; and these are the children we are currently helping, with our new partnership Williette Safehouse:
Geronimo T. Togbah, Aged 15, Above knee right leg amputee ( JACOB Doe, project manager)
Lives with his parents, we met his loving, concerned mother, Mata and several of his brothers. He has 6 brothers and 1 sister. He walks to school using his crutches which takes about 45 minutes. He suffers from regular fevers and skin infections on his back. His favourite subject used to be geography but now he prefers maths. He needs to be pushed at school to do well and keep his grades up. He loves playing football and used to be part of the amputee football team, but that seems to have ceased to operate now. His mother mentioned that he needs school books as they are too costly. He has a healthy stump, has been measured and is ready for fitting when the prosthesis has been made by DOORIS. This will be his first prosthesis.
Ezekiel Tamba, Age 16, Above knee Left leg amputee ( JACOB Doe, project Manager)
We met his mother, Comfort, and sister, Ruth at their house. They have electricity. Ezekiel lost his leg after he fell trying to do summersaults from the metal bars his family use to dry clothes. He broke his leg in 4 places and it became infected and eventually had to be removed at the hip to save his life. He is a very happy, lively, bright, boy who studies hard and does very well in school. He is very fast on his crutches and loves football. He wants to be a brain surgeon when he grows up. Currently he is taken to school on a taxi bike as it is too far for him to walk on his crutches. This will be his first prosthesis and it will be hard for him to adjust. He gets around quickly on his crutches and has virtually no stump for the prosthesis to be attached to and will need a waist belt to hold it on. DOORIS are on the case and designing a special prosthesis for his needs.
Jesse Kpadeah, Aged 15/16, Upper body left arm amputee ( JACOB Doe, project manager)
He is a very bright boy living with his parents and siblings. He broke his arm which became infected and eventually had to be removed. He does well in school and his favourite subject is physical education. He does not smile much! His father is a Reverend and quite serious. Jesse has a long walk to school for 1hr 20 min over rough terrain. We were discussing getting him a bicycle which his father agrees with. However in the light of the rainy season we have changed that idea and are adding him to the transport list. Currently we are only paying for school fees as we have not found a cost effective useful arm prosthetic for him.
Egnes Myers, Age 15, Below knee right leg amputee ( GEORGE Ware, project manager)
Egnes was ashamed of her missing limb and got teased by the people in her village so never took off her prosthetic leg. She even slept with it. Her stump became swollen and DOORIS explained the need to remove the prosthetic to let the stump have a break and the importance of proper daily wrapping. She has now been taught this and the limb is improving although she still needs to be reminded to remove the prosthesis. She has just moved to a new school which Victoria and I visited. Victoria had the smiley little children all singing for her! The school seems good and, although a reasonable distance to walk, she seems happy there and her favourite subject is English and she wants to be a medical Dr when she grows up. Egnes has been measured and is awaiting her new prosthetic from DOORIS.
Sweetie Brown, Age 16, Below knee left leg amputee (RICHARD Kolleh, project manager)
Just over a year ago Sweetie was hurt in a horrific road accident which resulted in her losing her left leg below the knee. It has taken a huge toll on her both physically and mentally. She still goes to St Paul Ecumenical High School (which we visited) where she has been for the past 5 years. When we saw her there she was just about to take an economics exam. She is very bright and doing well at school. Her favourite subject if English. Her father takes her to school each day and collects her on the back of his motorcycle. He has to make two trips as he has 2 other children which he also takes to and from school. He is very proud of all his children and welcomed the idea of her having transport to school. She has been measured and is awaiting her new prosthetic from DOORIS.
Moses Nuah, Age 15/16, Below knee left leg amputee (GEORGE Ware, project manager)
His stepfather accidentally shot him in the foot and due to lack of medical care it had to be amputated. His mother died of Ebola and now he lives with his grandmother. He has moved schools and now at boarding school quite a distance from where he lives. He is there with another student Abanigo (see below). He has just had bone trimming and healed quickly and successfully with no issues. His favourite subject at school is English grammar. He has been measured and is currently waiting for his new prosthesis from DOORIS.
Abanigo Nana, Age 15, Below knee left leg amputee (RICHARD Kolleh, project manager)
Abanigo has had his stumped checked and confirmed he is ready for a prosthesis. He has been measured and waiting for his prosthesis from DOORIS. He is an excellent student and is at boarding school with Moses.
Yatta Kromah, Age 15, Double below knee amputee ( JACOB Doe, project manager)
Yatta lives with her mother, Mary, and her brother. She has just had bone trimming on both legs and has had a long hard road to recovery. Williette’s safehouse has ensured she has been seen frequently by ELWA to ensure she is finally recovering and that she is daily wrapping her stumps with clean bandages. Her legs were amputated age 7 due to a skin condition which was eating her legs. She lives far from school in a difficult to reach neighbourhood. Her brother carries her to the road over the rocks to where she gets a taxi to take her to school. He then collects her again when she is brought back from school and carries her back to their home where she has a wheelchair to sit in so she is off the ground, the cold and wet. The wheelchair was kindly organised by Williette’s safehouse but it cannot go over the terrain near her home so is only partially useful. She will be fitted for prosthesis by DOORIS once the stumps are fully healed and the correct size feet are delivered from ATP Supplies. At Yatta’s old school the teachers did not get paid well as a government school so they often did not turn up and so the children do not receive an education. Yatta says she enjoys her new school and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She too is needing school books which the family cannot afford.
Samuel Boakai, Age 8, Below knee left leg amputee (RICHARD Kolleh, project manager)
He is a very bright boy and his mother takes him to school by taxi (L$ 30) each day. He is doing very well and his favourite subject is Computer 101. He loves football and usually plays as the goalkeeper. He recently had successful bone trimming surgery and has healed very quickly. He has been measured and awaiting his prosthesis from DOORIS.