It was late 2007 in Zimbabwe; the upcoming presidential elections were near and political intimidation in the rural areas was ramping up. As is common, people were being forced by the ruling party to attend political rallies for days on end. At a rally near his home, Friday was forced with others to get on a tractor at night with no headlights and tow felled trees down the highway to the rally’s bonfires. He knew that speeding cars would not see him until it was too late. Under threat of violence, he had no choice. Minutes later, his tractor was struck by a car and Friday, along with several others were severally injured or killed.
When we met Friday, four years later, he was unable to provide for his family and they were being evicted from the home he’d built, on the farm he’d worked for many years. He and his community were beyond excited by our arrival and everyone pitched in to help us make necessary modifications to the prosthesis. Once the prosthesis was fitting correctly, we taught Friday how to walk with his new leg. After only two days, Friday was able to take steps on his own, without the crutches he had relied on for the past four years. He is now working full time on the farm, living in his home and providing for his family…and he is a symbol of hope to his community.
Our amputee program is a special program that developed out of our extensive medical work in Zimbabwe, where we’ve treated many people who have lost limbs as a result of political violence. With many Zimbabweans already struggling for survival, the odds against an amputee being able to meet their daily challenges can be insurmountable.
With our background in physical medicine and rehabilitation, we understood the challenges that these amputees face and we knew we could pull resources from our friends in the medical community in the US and provide them the help they need to survive.
This program is a labor of love that is funded solely by private donations, the board members at ISWS and our friends in the medical community
Unlike our other programs, our amputee program is not limited to children; however, we do not use public donations to fund this program. This program is a labor of love that is funded solely by private donations, the board members at ISWS and our friends in the medical community that provide us with medical supplies, including ready-made prosthetic limbs and materials necessary to build prosthetic limbs in the field.
Some might ask how providing a prosthetic limb to an individual can help an entire community in their battle against poverty. To those people, we would
share what a local farmer in Zimbabwe once told us. He said that providing a member of their community with the opportunity to walk again was an amazing thing, but what we provided the community, as a whole, was much more valuable…we provided them with hope. He explained that these communities suffer from extreme poverty and political intimidation on a daily basis and they often feel forgotten by the rest of the world. When someone from half-way around the world shows up to provide a member of their community with an opportunity to walk again, an opportunity to provide for his/her family, an opportunity to be productive…it gives them the hope. Hope that they are not alone, not forgotten and that their fortunes can change.