Around 700 physically disabled people are getting a second chance at life with the help of an Indian charity, the Jaipur Foot at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR) popularly known as Pongu Hospital, at Agargaon, Dhaka.
Jaipur Foot, the world's largest organisation for prosthetic limbs, is holding a camp for 15 days at the Pongu Hospital, sponsored by the Moyeen Foundation. Last year, the organisation fitted 1,400 people with prosthetic limbs.
Registration for the 3rd annual 'Artificial Limb Fitment Camp' began on September 21 to provide free prosthetic limbs to those who cannot afford them. People from all over Bangladesh were invited, and some 700 people have already registered for new limbs that they will receive next year. A team of 15 technicians have come from India this year.
“We have fitted around 300 limbs at the camp but had to close registration on October 4 as the demand was much higher than stocks,” said Rezaul Hossain, an intern at the hospital, who was working at the camp said.
A team of 15 technicians have come from India this year| Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
Three years ago, Ayesha Parvin a 17-years-old lost both her legs in a train accident. Her Mother Sheema Banu told the Dhaka Tribune: “on that fateful day in 2014, she was working close to the rail tracks at Tejgaon slum. My daughter was walking along the tracks that afternoon when a train, without warning, came towards her so fast that she had no time to jump and she was trampled. Even though she survived, she lost her legs that day.
“She’s been on a wheelchair ever since and today is the first day in three years that she’s walked!”
Like Ayesha, 300 amputees have received prosthetic legs at the camp, according to Bhagwan Mahveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, Media Advisor of Jaipur Prakash Bhandari, who is leading the camp.
“Although our target was to fit 15 limbs per day, the demand rose to 25 people a day! By the time the camp ends on October 14, some 700 people will get new prosthetic limbs,” he said.
One of the team members, Captain Singh lost one of his legs during a motorcycling accident.
“After I lost my leg in a motorcycling accident in 2014, I was lost. I no longer had a job and was sad. Then I decided to go train with Mahveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti on how to make prosthetic limbs. Not only can I make them now but can fit them too. I have been doing this around the world now,” he said.
“I was lonely as I found myself neglected because of not having a leg. But now I am glad that another man can walk on their feet through legs prepared by me,” he said.
The 15-day camp ends on October 14 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
Jaipur Foot first came to Bangladesh in 2013 during the worst ever industrial disaster the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar that killed over 1100 people. Since then, they have partnered with the Moyeen Foundation to provide prosthetic limbs, free of cost.
“We have this camp once a year with some financial donations from our friends, which is why the number of limps available is limited. Even though several thousand come to get prosthetic limbs, we can only help a limited few. In three years, we have helped around 2,000 people,” said the Director of Moyeen Foundation, Sadia Moyeen.
Sadia said they are set to build a permanent centre next year where prosthetic limbs will be available free of cost.
Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programs (UCEP) Bangladesh and Apex Footwear Limited are jointly working at the camp this year. UCEP is offering recovered patients with work opportunities by training them in skills development, while Apex will provide shoes for the newly fitted limbs, free of cost.