As part of our “Celebrating Parents” series, please take two minutes to watch this incredible video about Andre and his parents in Brazil. Andre’s favorite toy is a ball. See him in action after Ponseti treatment with his loving parents! 

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Story Behind Photo of the Day: Marli and Me

Pictured above is Marli, a nurse in Sao Paulo, Brazil and a special friend to miraclefeet.  Marli began working with clubfoot patients over a decade ago and has since committed herself to treating children suffering from talipes.  Marli doesn’t just help patients for a day though—she heals them for a lifetime.

The Ponseti method, the gold standard treatment for clubfoot in developing countries, involves a series of castings—six to eight over a two month period.  These castings require no cutting or surgery, so they are pain free for children.  But casts have to be removed.  Some nurses or doctors will use a saw to remove casts.  Though this won’t hurt the child, imagine how scary and traumatic the appearance of a razor-edged tool is to an already confused infant or toddler.  Recall that casts are removed six to eight times, too.

But this method of cast removal is not the only way.  miraclefeet partners with nurses like Marli who opt for a much gentler, less intimidating method.  Marli simply soaks a child’s casted feet in warm water until the casts loosen.  It’s peaceful for young patients and just as effective.  And Marli uses this extra soaking time to perform another very important step in the Ponseti method:  educating moms.

After the series of castings, the feet are completely corrected.  But to ensure the corrected feet don’t relapse, patients wear a foot abduction brace for another several years.  This step is really important to ensure the successful treatment continues.  And it’s up to the parents to make sure their child wears this brace every day.  Often it can appear the brace isn’t necessary—the child’s feet look great, they are walking around—but continued use is imperative.  Marli understands this and acts as a counselor, talking to mothers from the very beginning about why treatment and the brace are so important.  This thoughtfulness and extra care are why Marli’s clubfoot clinic has such wonderfully low relapse rates.

miraclefeet is proud to partner with doctors, counselors and nurses like Marli who, with the funds provided by generousmiraclefeet donors, provide thorough and gentle care to young clubfoot patients in developing nations around the globe.  Over the next year, we are excited to build upon existing partnerships, like in Brazil with Marli, and expand to new locations and clinics, in need of extra funds and assistance, who are doing incredible work. 

To see more Photos of the Day:  twitter.com/miraclefeet

To learn about other clinics miraclefeet currently partners with:  miraclefeet.org

To donate and help “miracle” workers like Marli:  https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1001406

Meet the Staff

Meet Lauren Wall, our Program Manager.  Lauren is constantly thinking of ways to improve our programs, website and social media.  She has built wonderful relationships with both the doctors in miraclefeet clinics around the world, as well as many of the patients.  In fact, we are always wondering a little bit if she’s going to bring a few patients back with her!  Here’s what she had to say when I asked her a few questions about herself:

How did you get started with miraclefeet?

I had been working in global health for a while and was looking and was interested in finding a program that used local doctors to treat patients, and I found miraclefeet. 

What is one of your favorite memories in the field?

At Christmastime last year I was in Brazil.   One of our patients, Yasmin, was getting braces for the first time.  It was the first time she had ever worn shoes.  She was upset, didn’t like the brace, and didn’t know what was going on.  When her doctor’s visit was over, I gave her a Christmas present that I had brought her, a Doctor Barbie.  All of a sudden the tears stopped and her little arms wrapped around my neck.It was this genuine happiness.

What do you love about your job?

I love that we’re so small and there’s a lot of different things to do.  Every day is different and everything I do makes an impact.

What do you not love so much about your job?

Oh gosh, I don’t hate anything about my job!  I don’t like thinking about all the children in the world with clubfoot, it’s so overwhelming how much work there is to be done.  But it helps that every day we are getting closer, and every day we are helping children.

Are you strictly a 9-5 outfit?  Or are you a workaholic that works into the night, holidays, and weekends?

I don’t like to say I’m a workaholic.  I fall into that “Live to Work” category and sometimes working from 9-5 doesn’t work for m, so its nice to have my laptop and be able to work from wherever and whenever I want.  Technology really makes working remotely so easy.  I like to be able to answer e-mails while sitting in the car, not when I’m driving of course! 

Do you like to listen to anything at work?

Not really.  Silence, I guess.  Sometimes I listen to NPR or a podcast. 

What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?

I like to run.  I like to read.  And I like to drink coffee.  There will never be a run long enough, a book thick enough or a cup of coffee large enough.

What was your favorite cartoon as a child?

I actually hated cartoons as a child!  I only liked television shows that featured people.  Looney Tunes was the bane of my existence as a 7 year old.  I did love Nick at Nite, especially I Love Lucy. 

What are your 3 great loves in life?

1.       My mom.

2.       Children, it’s so endearing how they depend on us for everything, how vulnerable and innocent they are

3.       Chocolate cake…or maybe I Love Lucy.

Yasmin was born in Ceara, a state in the northeast of Brazil, with bilateral clubfeet. There, she started her treatment of casts below the knee, and after a few months, the doctor told Yasmin’s parents that she would need surgery in order for her feet to be corrected. The doctor also told them that they would have to pay for the surgery, something that as sustenance farmers, they would never be able to afford.

Yasmin’s parents had heard that free surgeries were common in Sao Paulo. Yasmin, her bother, and their parents left their farm in rural Ceara, and traveled 3000km (about 1800 miles) by bus to Sao Paulo, the world’s seventh largest city.

Yasmin’s mother brought her to a miraclefeet partner clinic in Sao Paulo, where the doctor and physical therapists explained to her how the Ponseti treatment worked. Yasmin’s mother cried during the whole visit; she thought surgery was the only way to correct her daughter’s feet and had moved her family thousands of miles for it, only to hear that she would not be operated on. Many Ponseti doctors in Brazil struggle to convince parents that the Ponseti Method is more effective and safer than surgery. Red-eyed, Yasmin’s mother gave them permission to cast Yasmin, this time with above the knee Ponseti casts, and asked her to come back the next week.

Yasmin and her mother returned to the clinic the next week and every other week since. Her mother noticed the difference after the first cast was taken off and was thrilled to see her practice walking and standing between cast changes.

Yasmin is now wearing her first brace and loves wearing shoes for the first time, even though they are connected by a bar! Her family has plans to stay in Sao Paulo until her doctor is confident enough that she can return to Ceara and have less frequent visits. For now, life in Sao Paulo is still difficult; Yasmin’s father has found a job doing construction, but now that they do not live on a farm, they have less food than they used to. Yasmin’s mother particularly misses their home, but seeing her daughter’s transformation, can only smile and tell us, “It’s worth it.”

Did you watch the video below?  If not, please do.
Here is the good news.  This is that same adorable little girl who struggled to stay upright in the video below after two months of treatment.  An incredible transformation!  
In this past year, about 40 children like Yasmin have been treated in the miraclefeet partner clinic in Sao Paulo! They do amazing work - truly turning around children’s lives without invasive or costly surgery - using the gentle casting and bracing treatment known as the Ponseti Method.

Did you watch the video below?  If not, please do.

Here is the good news.  This is that same adorable little girl who struggled to stay upright in the video below after two months of treatment.  An incredible transformation!  

In this past year, about 40 children like Yasmin have been treated in the miraclefeet partner clinic in Sao Paulo! They do amazing work - truly turning around children’s lives without invasive or costly surgery - using the gentle casting and bracing treatment known as the Ponseti Method.

Please watch this video from one of our partner clinics in Brazil.  It shows, more clearly than any words ever can, the terrible effects of untreated clubfoot.

This sweet two year old, who came to Sao Paulo about two months ago is now being treated.  Soon she will be able to walk, run, skip, jump and do all those things that kids should do.  But equally important she will be able to go to school and eventually get a job if she wants to - and avoid abuse, humiliation, pain and poverty.

She is one of the lucky ones.  Sadly there are hundreds of children born with clubfoot around the world who will never walk properly due to a lack of treatment.

miraclefeet supports wonderful teams and clinics in Brazil as well as other Ponseti doctors in India, Mexico and Nicaragua to make sure more children get the treatment they need - slowly chipping away at the problem one step at a time.

miraclefeet partners with two new clinics in Brazil!
miraclefeet  works in Brazil due to  its large population, stability, and commitment  to public health. Brazil continues to have truly incredible economic growth, but is still a  country of great socioeconomic inequality with very high poverty rates  and large numbers of untreated clubfoot.
miraclefeet currently has 2  official partners in Brazil - in Sao Paulo and in Minas Gerais (the  first and second populous states in Brazil, respectively.)  Hospital  Universitario of Universidade de Sao Paulo, a partner with miraclefeet,  has been recruiting more and more patients - you’ve seen many of their  little feet on this blog!  The number of patients in Sao Paulo is great, much in part due to the population and to the amazing outreach done by our partners!
We are also formalizing our  partnership with Hospital Martagao Gesteira in Salvador in the state of  Bahia - the fourth largest state in Brazil! 

miraclefeet partners with two new clinics in Brazil!

miraclefeet works in Brazil due to its large population, stability, and commitment to public health. Brazil continues to have truly incredible economic growth, but is still a country of great socioeconomic inequality with very high poverty rates and large numbers of untreated clubfoot.

miraclefeet currently has 2 official partners in Brazil - in Sao Paulo and in Minas Gerais (the first and second populous states in Brazil, respectively.)  Hospital Universitario of Universidade de Sao Paulo, a partner with miraclefeet, has been recruiting more and more patients - you’ve seen many of their little feet on this blog!  The number of patients in Sao Paulo is great, much in part due to the population and to the amazing outreach done by our partners!

We are also formalizing our partnership with Hospital Martagao Gesteira in Salvador in the state of Bahia - the fourth largest state in Brazil! 

miraclefeet treats baby boy with Ponseti Method - This is Matheus who has been a miraclefeet patient since October of 2010!  You might have seen him before on our A Step Forward in Photos album!  Matheus finished his casting series and has been wearing his brace since November of 2010!  His mother, Regina follows all of the clinic’s instructions and is very attentive that Matheus wears his brace correctly and for the right amount of time.

Many children are diagnosed with clubfoot prenatally via ultrasound.  Regina was unaware that Matheus had clubfoot until he was born.  He is the only child in their family to have clubfoot that they know of.  Regina, who is a single mother and supporting Matheus on her own, has certainly found the perfect clinic for Matheus!