"the driver left me on the road", Latifa, 24 year old mother and business woman from Dodoma, Tanzania
Before Latifa was left for dead in the road by a hit-and-run driver, her life was pretty normal. Married with 2 small boys she kept her home and earned a small income buying and selling clothes at the market.
After the accident, passers-by helped get her to a nearby hospital where she remained unconscious for another 7 days. By the time she woke, both of her legs had been amputated from below the knee. After a month of recovery in hospital she returned home but without prosthetics, it was almost impossible to resume her usual activities. Not long later, the family situation deteriorated and she and her husband decided to separate, so Latifa was forced to move back into her mother's home with the youngest of her two sons, sending the older one to live with her sister.
Losing both of her legs was very traumatic for Latifa. Until she came to terms with the loss of her limbs, she cried inconsolably for days. Once she overcame the grief of losing her legs, home and husband she has managed to find ways to get many of her household chores done on her stumps. If she needed to go to the market to sell clothes, she shuffled to the door and called for the motorbike taxi to come to the door and friends help her do the grocery shopping. Still, many people stared, she didn’t always feel safe out in public and some of her previous friends just do not come by anymore. On her meagre existence, prosthetics just wasn't an option she felt she could consider.
When the option to be sponsored for free prosthetic fittings came her way, she immediately signed up. Having legs again means she no longer needs to go through her days on her knees. She can resume care for her boys and have more options to expand her business.
Today she is a different person! The day she received her new legs, the sadness of the past few years quickly faded and she became the vibrant and chatty woman she was before. The joy of being able to walk again bubbles over in smiles, chatter and evident joy at having her previous stature restored.
Her legs were donated on September 15th, 2018 at Kagondo Hospital during a SwissLimbs training mission sponsored by Medicor Foundation.
"I was conscious and in total agony", Frederik – 22 years old from Dodoma
Frederik has been amputated Above the knee just last year. These are his first steps on a prosthetic leg.
Frederik lives at home with his parents and his 7 other siblings.
“We were travelling to the family farm on a tractor when I fell off. My leg was trapped between the huge tire and solid fender of the vehicle. I was conscious and in total agony for all the time it took my family to untangle my leg from the tractor and transport me to the nearest hospital. I was in despair for 3 weeks as the doctors tried to save my leg, I really did not want to loose it. In the end they assured me that amputation followed by the fitting of a prosthetic was the best option for me to regain my lost mobility, so I consented. Although my wound healed well, my family could not afford the TZS 5 million (almost Euro 2000.00) to purchase me a prosthesis.
When my accident happened, I was in in Form 4, the last year of state sponsored education in Tanzania. To complete the final 2 years of high school and study at a university, my parents would need to pay my tuition fees. I would like to be a businessman one day and open my own shop.”
As a first-time user of an above knee prosthetic, Frederik would normally have required at least one week of training before being able to walk without the aid of crutches. Encouraged by the chance he thought he had lost forever of being able independently mobile again, he walked unaided and confidently out of the workshop two days after his fitting.
On 21st September 2018 Frederick was put back on its feet by SwissLimbs with a new leg and a high preforming All-Terrain knee which is especially designed for active people who need to be mobile in rough terrains.
"6 people died in the accident, I survived but lost my right hand" Chesco – 43 years old father of 4 from Dodoma
Chesco is married and has 4 children from the ages of 3 to 13. He tells us his story with a smile on his face, because of what will be in his life, rather than what it has been.
“I was working as an operator of an excavation truck for a local company. Each day they would transport us to the work site on the back of the company lorry. One morning our driver hit a diesel carrier. Of the 65 people involved in the accident, 6 died. Some had more minor injuries but I lost my right arm above the elbow.
“Staff of my employers took me to the KCMC (the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre) to be fitted shoulders causing me constant pain for the time I had it on. After 5 years it became worn out so I stopped using it and never sought a replacement prosthetic”.
On 21st September 2018 Chesco was fitted and trained with the myoelectric hand. He was in awe of its functionality and smiled constantly as he practised using it. At his own insistence he left the workshop carrying his bag in his right hand. His next step towards restoring the life he once had is to return to his boss and ask for his old job back and an excavation truck driver.
"the car drove over me and crushed my leg" Denis – 20 year old father from Tanzania
Denis comes from a large family. Because academia was not his strongest suit, he was forced to leave the public education system at the end of grade 7. The only way to obtain a school leaving certificate would be to attend a private school, which for his family was not possible financially. As a 16 year old in 2014, her was sitting near a shop when a the driver in a passing car lost control of his vehicle and drove over him. Never loosing contagiousness he felt the full extent of the excoriating pain of his crushed legs. He thought he was going to die. Doctors performed 4 operations which allowed him to regain the use of his right leg but he left leg had to be amputated above the knee.
Denis, a husband and father of a 9 month old son is thrilled with his new leg. The previous prosthetic was worn out but his new leg with its All Terrain Knee, gives him a lot more mobility.
SwissLimbs, thanks to Medicor Foundation’s sponsorship, fitted Denis with an above knee prosthetic leg which he’s wearing comfortably and with great confidence.
"the railings crushed onto the bus cutting my leg" - Asha, 30 year old teacher from Tanzania
In January 2016 Asha was travelling by public transport from Shinyanga, her home town to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. She was on her way to attend her classes to earn a diploma in Social Education.
The driver lost control of the vehicle as it was about to cross a bridge. Crashing into the bridge infrastructure, one of the railings pierced through the body of the bus severing part of Asha's leg. The assistant bus driver took Asha to a local hospital where it was decided that she needed to be transferred to a more central care facility. 24 hours later Asha's leg was amputated.
In the absence of the usual counselling that usually accompanies such a traumatic medical intervention like this, Asha struggled to come to terms with the loss of her limb. After a few weeks of deep sorrow Asha slowly started to make plans that would allow her to resume her studies and find employment.
SwissLimbs, in collaboration with Kagondo Hospital and thank to its donor Medicor Foundation, has donated her a below knee prosthesis allowing her to have mobility independent of crutches for which she is very grateful. Her new prosthetic allows her to make her first steps in reconstructing the future she had planned for herself.
“I saw my hand trapped in the minibus’ door", Ali, 30 years old from Tanzania.
Ali used to be a goalkeeper for “The Negros FC”, a second division football team in Zanzibar. On a sunny afternoon in 2011 he and the team were returning from winning an away-match against Mgheri Hajiwith.
As they were travelling down the Piange Road near the town of Zanzibar, the driver lost control of the speeding vehicle. The mini-bus already with break problems but now all filled with team members flipped over before coming to a halt. Ali being closest to the passenger door, was flung through the open window. He was the only person who sustained severe injuries.
Ali's first memory is seeing his hand trapped in the minibus’ door. The driver shouted for people to gather around and assist in freeing him. Once released Ali saw his wrist was severely wounded.
That night, despite all efforts to save as much of his hand as they could, doctors ended up amputating his hand at the radio level. Ali was discharged 9 days later. Once his wound was sufficiently healed, he was fitted with a mechanical prosthesis later that year but it broke after a few years of constant use.
Before the accident, Ali was studying to become a plumber. The loss of his arm also drastically reduced his chances of getting a job and completing his studies in this field. With a heavy heart, Ali began to adapt to his new identity as a 'disabled' person.
His new myoelectric hand prosthesis has made him very happy because it has increased the number of activities he can perform, like riding his bike, carrying out small repair jobs but most of all it allows him a much higher level of independence. With his new prosthesis, he hopes to get a job and build his own grocery shop.
Ali was awarded a myoelectric hand prosthesis in Zanzibar the 25th October 2017
“I lost both my legs above the knee and two fingers from my right hand. I was walking on the street and suddenly I felt something below my feet; it was a landmine…” Basel, 25 years old man from Syria.
“My name is Basel, I’m married with two children. I’m 25 years old from Syria. I used to be a tailor. Six months ago, I was walking down a road in my hometown in Syria, when suddenly I felt something below my feet, it was a landmine. The explosion blew both of my legs off, above the knee, my right ring finger and part of the thumb of my right hand”
Mr. Basel is a man of few words. After his ordeal left him maimed of both legs and one hand, he felt his hopes also been blown away, losing his home and his job. He is now anxious to resume his life being able to walk again on his new prosthetic legs. His dearest desire is to go back to his home in Syria. In Jordan, he is just a refugee with no home, job or hope. Basel is a very courageous young man who does not linger on what he has lost and his past, he rather looks ahead towards a new future.
Mr. Basel is immensely grateful to SwissLimbs for fitting him with his first pair of new legs. He was fitted with two above knee SwissLimbs Prostheses during the Al-Bashir Mission in August 2017.
„I was abducted by the LRA* when I was 12 and was forced to fight for them for 7 years. My liberation came at a high cost when the government forces bombed our camp blowing my leg away." Sunday, 32 years old from Te-Aceng, North Region of Uganda.
“The LRA took us, imprisoned us in their bush-camps and made us do unspeakable things. One day the UPDF* attacked the camp where we were hiding, killing and maiming many of us and along with other civilians.
The LRA fled, leaving the dead and injured behind. I was taken to the Lacor Hospital in Gulu where they were able to save my life but could not save my leg. My injuries were so severe that I stayed in hospital for 2 years while they patched me up everywhere.
At age 21 I was brought to a rehabilitation center for ex-child soldiers where they helped me deal with the severe war trauma I went through; the memories were just too painful and I stayed there for 8 months.
A wonderful lady from AVSI, Joyce Laker, saw me there and spoke to me about the possibility of receiving a leg from the Gulu Orthopedic workshop. She helped me get my very first leg and I was just so happy when I realized I could walk again. The leg helped me get out of my helpless state and allowed me enough independence to do some farming work. This way I am able to earn enough money to support my family.
It wasn’t easy going back to my own village. There was so much stigma around my physical and psychological condition. My own family rejected me thinking of me too damaged in my mind and body to be good for anything.
Still, I continued to live there and gradually worked my way into the community again. Today I am very blessed with a wife and my 2 ½ year old boy. This year I have been so privileged to be chosen to receive this new leg with a new very fancy knee. It’s so amazing! The leg is light, comfortable and the knee so smooth to walk, sit, climb stairs and it’s waterproof.
I am very thankful to the SwissLimbs and AVSI teams for their gift and the wonderful way with which the technicians took care of me.
Sunday Odong is 32 years old from Te-Aceng, North Region of Uganda.
He received new SwissLimbs Trans-Femoral Prostheses with the innovative All-Terrain knee, in May 6th, 2017
* Lord's Resistance Army.
* Ugandan Peoples Defense Force
I am so happy that I can walk again and now I can work and help my wife providing for our family.”
“Back in 1997, the fighting was so intense in my village that the government put us all in a camp to protect us. I lived there for 7 years. One day, I went outside the camp for just a short while but I ran into an ambush. The rebels chased me and I ran as fast as I could but stumbled upon a rock and broke my leg very badly so just had to lie there.
Word got to my brother who came with his bicycle to take me to Kitgum hospital for urgent medical care. They were not able to help me, so I was transferred to the Lacor Hospital in Gulu, where my leg was amputated.
When I came out of hospital, I could go back to my village and together with my family we could start to rebuild our home. As I was only able to move slowly on crutches, I was very dependent on my wife because I could not work or help in any significant way.
People ask me why I never got an artificial leg for all those years, and although I knew they existed I had no idea there could be done in Uganda. It was my brother who heard about the Gulu Orthopedic Workshop, and I could finally go there.
I am so happy that I can walk again and now I can work and help my wife providing for our family.”
Alterno arrived at the Gulu Orthopedic Center with a downcast expression, moving laboriously on crutches. When he first tried his leg on, he was at first teary then excited and his smile returned. “This leg,” he said, “will change his life forever.”
Walking is an ability Alterno has needed to re-learn. His new leg is fitting him perfectly, and has regained full independent mobility.
Alterno Nokrach from Lamo and he lives in Kiryandongo district of Uganda. He is 55 years old and married with 7 children (2 boys and 5 girls aged between 5 and 24).
Alterno received a left below knee monolimb prostheses from Swisslimbs in collaboration with AVSI Foundation Uganda, May 2017.
„I was still conscious when I was below the bus, the tire did crush my leg below knee and I could see my tibia bone coming outside with a lot of blood, flesh, and muscles surrounding it “, Baraka - 35 years old from Mbeya, Tanzania.
Baraka is married and has 4 children, a 15 y.o. girl a 10 y.o. boy, 6 y.o. boy and a 3 y.o. boy. Eight years ago he was happy to finally find a job as money collector in a private bus line which route is from Mbeya town to Chunya District and worked there for 4 years when due to an accident at his job he lost his right leg. Baraka tells his story below:
“In a certain Monday during August 2013, I was collecting the bus fairs outside the bus when by stepping inside the bus, the driver didn’t see me and started to move forward. I suddenly fell down and my right leg was below the tire. It was at Chunya - Tanzania.
I was still conscious when I was below the bus, the tire did crush my leg below the knee and I could see my tibia bone sticking out the leg with a lot of blood, flesh, and muscles surrounding it. At the exact moment, I was shocked, and did not feel any pain just looking at the fracture when a passenger took me with his own car to Mbeya Referral Hospital.
During the way to the hospital I lost my conscious and when I awoke I was in the hospital and started to feel an intense pain. The doctors tried to save my leg by stitching it, but the wound didn’t heal and after 3 days the doctors decided to amputate my leg above the knee. I remained one month in the Hospital. My wife, children, and relatives took care of myself during this period.
After this accident, I wasn’t able to go back to work and lost my job. I always started to cry when I thought on my condition as disabled and was thinking about suicide many times. My former employer did not give any assistance and I even had to buy my own crutches.
After 4 months I finally started to make my first steps in front of my home. Then I rent a motorcycle to work as a Boda Boda driver, that is still my job occasionally and I have also my own corn farm.
I’m very happy now with my new leg because I do not depend on the crutches anymore. I have now a lot of mobility and I couldn’t believe to walk on my own feet, thank you very much SwissLimbs and Ikonda Hospital.”
SwissLimbs in collaboration with Ikonda Hospital donated him his first above knee prosthesis on May 4th, 2017.
„Rockets were flying from the sky. There was no time to run for cover and the carnage was unescapable“, Mohammad - 58 years old from Raqqa, Syria .
"The streets of Raqqa were full of people going home after work. Me too, I was walking home when the rockets suddenly hit. People were running and shouting, 20 people were severely injured and 6 died. I saw something that I will never forget: as a building was collapsing a lady was shot out of the balcony of her flat, free falling to her death. I found myself 100m away, so strong was the explosion.
We were rushed to the emergency room of the hospital only to find it completely deserted. All medical personnel fled in fear of the Isis fighters who just invaded the city and made themselves the new rulers.
There was no other option but to return home and mend our own injuries. My body was covered with metal splints, especially my leg, which even with the best efforts I could not treat appropriately. I desperately needed medical attention and I started to plead for permission from the Isis new rulers to go to Damascus hospital. 4 months later I received it, but it was too late to save my leg and the doctors could do nothing else but to cut it off. I was angry, I have no way to describe my feelings at senseless behaviour from those people.
In Damascus, the situation got worse and they took us as refugees to the Zaatari camp. I cannot describe the conditions there were terrible back in 2013. It was cold, unorganised, we were sharing a tent and food was scarce. It was unbearable, so we saw a gap and escaped to the nearby city of Irbid where we live to this day.
I suffered so much, a suffering that I wish not even to my worst enemy. 14 surgeries later, and over 3 years after that fateful day I finally received my first leg. I don’t know how to express my thanks to SwissLimbs and to their donors for such kindness. I can walk again, and this is a miracle.
I don’t have too many hopes for my future, it is too painful to see the devastation of my Country and the scattering of my family.”
Mohammad Nhaier lives in Irbid since 2013 under assistance. Back in Syria he was the headmaster of a school, his wife Adiba was a teacher under the Ministry of Education. They have 6 children, 4 of which now adults with degrees and professional training are now doing manual jobs to survive here in Jordan.
SwissLimbs gave him a first prosthesis on February 4th, 2017
„I was playing soccer when suddenly an unexpected blow of a mortal shell disrupted our game... they removed one of my kidneys and my right leg“, Ibrahim - 27 years old from Dara'a, Syria .
"I was walking in the street playing soccer with the neighbourhood friends when suddenly an unexpected blow of a mortal shell disrupted our game, and our lives. It was March 16th, 2014.
2 of my friends died on the spot and 6 of us sustained severe injuries. I was numb with excruciating pain and was immediately taken to the emergency clinic where they removed one of my kidneys and my right leg. My injuries were so bad that in the next 1 ½ years I had to undergo 41 surgeries. I was completely shuttered.
The reconstruction of my lower limbs had to happen in several stages; first they had to reconnect my arteries taking healthy tissue from my left leg, then they had to create a suitable stump so that, one day I could wear a prosthetic leg.
My life changed forever: back in Syria I was living happily with my family and working with my other 5 brothers in the family business, we are floor layers and were doing very well. I miss them. Now we are separated, 1 of my brothers manged to go to Germany, one to Qatar, one is dead. Only one is left here in Irbid. I also have 6 sisters, one still lives in Syria, one went to America and the other 4 are scattered throughout Jordan. I can consider myself happy to be alive, but it will take time to rebuild my life.
I dream of a free Syria and to be able to go back to my own home and rebuild my family business. I hope that my dream will come true."
„The day I lost my leg was the day my husband left me. He said that I was no longer worthy of him“, Lilly - widow with 4 children.
4 kids, 28 girl, 25 boy, 14 boy, 3 girl (from her 2nd husband who died)
And 1 grandchild 5 years old boy.
"As I was returning to my house from the fields, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) were all over my village and made themselves at home in my yard. The UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Force) soldiers were approaching and forced the LRA to retreat into the bush, while they were fleeing, they planted landmines everywhere.
I was last of the 6 women on the way home after a day’s work in the fields. It was already dark an as I stepped on a landmine, I heard a noise, and then the blast. My 5 friends fled in fear and left me laying there, bleeding, fully conscious and in terrible pain. I battled death all night long, until they came to rescue me in the morning.
The Red Cross ambulance took me to the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital where I finally let go and lost my consciousness. When I woke up I realized my leg was cut off and the immediate thought was: How will I now work to feed my children? Without a leg, I cannot live!
But after I was fitted with a prosthetic leg, I slowly started to walk again and managed to put my life back together and work again. I am land mine survivor, I have been abandoned by my first husband, I am a widow from my second, but I am grateful to God that I am alive and could take care of my 4 children.
When I received the new Swissleg I couldn’t believe how light it was. I walk so much easier with it, especially because I must walk long distances, it is less tiring."
Lilly, September 2016.
„I looked down and saw I was missing my leg and suddenly I started feeling a lot of pain. I started crying.“, John - 30 years old from Uganda.
John arrived at the hospital after a half day travel on his motorbike. He came from another district but the distance did not bother him, he was just so excited to get a new leg. His wife Alice stayed home with their 2 children, a 4 years old boy and a 2 years old girl.
John is a 30 years old plumber but also a Boda Boda driver in between jobs to supplement his income. Boda Boda drivers are taxis on motorbikes, they are the main mean for transportation in Ugandan society. They are licensed for 1 passenger but are often found with 2, 3 even 4 passengers!
„I was walking around our home courtyard when I stepped on something strange and when I tried to check what it was - boom! It exploded! I immediately lost consciousness and woke up hours later at the hospital. I was told that it was my father who came to pick me up and put me on his bicycle and rode a long distance to take me to the nearest medical center.
I regained my consciousness and the immediate reaction was to get out of bed, but I felt that my left leg was just too light, I looked down on it and saw what was missing and suddenly I started feeling a lot of pain. I started crying for the pain but also because I realized I could not walk anymore. After 2 months at the hospital I was sent home with a pair of crutches. The kids in school were teasing me because of my missing limb.
2 years later I was found by an AVSI worker who told me that I could get an artificial leg brought me to the Gulu Regional Referral hospital. I was so happy, I could walk again!
Now I have received a brand new Swissleg! It’s so much nicer then the previous one, and especially it’s so light that makes everything so much easier: walking, riding my bike and working. I could even choose my favourite decoration, and I think it looks great. I want to thank SwissLimbs and AVSI for giving me this wonderful gift.”