Meet Jatu, a clubfoot patient, and her family

imageHere is a family photo of little Jatu with her mother, Kema, her twin sister, and her brother Amos.  Jatu and her twin are 1 year and 7 months.  Her twin sister does not have clubfoot. They are the youngest of 5 children.

 Jatu’s mother Kema is blind.  Understanding the difficulties of persons with disabilities in Liberia, Kema worried that her daughter’s clubfoot would prevent her going to school, getting married, and having a full life. She learned that clubfoot treatment was available, she knew she must bring her, Jatu.  Kema does not go anywhere without her eight-year-old son Amos. Kema carries the twins, while Amos guides his mother by holding her skirt.

 Kema, the twins, and Amos walked 3 hours on the main road to reach C.B. Dunbar clinic in Gbarnga, Bong County.  Here, the FACORC clubfoot team along with nurses and a doctor from C.B. Dunbar casted the clubfoot children, including little Jatu.  “People said that my daughter will not walk because her twin sister sat on top of her in my womb,”Kema told the Ponseti practitioners.  “I am happy for this program.”

We have reached 85 children in Liberia.  To continue treating children like Jatu, please consider donating this holiday season.image

#Tweet4Feet Tweetup at Gil Gallery in Charlotte

This Thursday (9/8) miraclefeet will hold its first Tweetup in Charlotte, NC to help raise money for children living with untreated clubfoot in developing countries. You may be asking…what the heck is a Tweetup?! In a nutshell, it’s an opportunity to bring online conversations taking place on Twitter to an offline venue. Our venue happens to be Gil Gallery, which is significant because owner/artist Edwin Gil (orginally from Colombia) had clubfoot as a child.

The event will have a marked “Latin” flair too it as the music, food and adult beverages will all have a Latin influence. If you’d like more information about the #tweet4feet event, please visit www.twtvite.com/tweet4feet. If you’re unable to attend, please sign on to Twitter from 6-9pm this Thursday and show miraclefeet some love. Here are some important details you’ll need to know:

TWITTER HANDLE:

EVENT HASHTAG:

  • #tweet4feet

LOCATION TWITTER HANDLE:

SPONSORS / ORGANIZER TWITTER HANDLES:

  • ADB Promotions - @adppromotions
  • Charlotte Connect - @CLTConnect
  • Dean Bauguss - @deanbauguss
  • miraclefeet - @miraclefeet
  • Rooster Communications - @RoosterComms

IN-KIND DONOR TWITTER HANDLES:

  • Chipotle - @ChipotleTweets
  • Edwin Gil - @EdwinGil
  • Gil Gallery - @GilGallery
  • Modern Day Salon & Spa - N/A
  • MRM Photography - @MRMPhotography
  • Send Out Cards - @bsweddell
  • Target - @Target

For more information about miraclefeet, visit www.miraclefeet.org.

Nonprofits need money for programs abroad too

                       

By Chesca Colloredo - Managing Director - miraclefeet

An article that appeared in yesterday’s Chronicle of Philanthropy reveals that travel expert and TV personality, Rick Stevens, is giving $1 million to an arts charity near Seattle. Interesting enough, this $1 million gift is what he saved in federal tax cuts over the past decade, but even more compelling is the fact that he’s urging other millionaires to do the same. Stevens goes on to say that if you’re fortunate enough to be doing well financially these days, then you should most definitely donate to a cause you believe in. Although Stevens’ motive was not purely philanthropic (there was a bit of politics involved) it doesn’t downplay his contribution or message to his compatriots in the same tax bracket.

It also brings up a good point about how lucky we are in the United States that philanthropy is part of our culture. miraclefeet’s work abroad sees disparities in income and basic healthcare provisions that would boggle even the most hardened person’s mind. Giving to international causes is even more important these days as U.S. funding for programs/services in developing countries are always on the chopping block. Even now the rich seem to get richer and the poor get poorer.

As a bastion of hope for many developing nations, we as U.S. citizens have a moral obligation to help those whose quality of life is so far below ours. Stories like baby Vinisius from Brazil tear at your heart strings and demonstrate the real need for more education, awareness and service provisions in emerging economy countries. We highlight clubfoot as this is what we seek to cure, but donating your time, treasure or talent to any nonprofit abroad is just as important as making a difference here stateside.

Ecuador needs a clubfoot program

      

Dr. Silva and his nurse treating a child with clubfoot at the exclusive Hospital de los Valles in Ecuador, one of the few places where Ponseti treatment is currently available.


By Chesca Colloredo, Managing Director, miraclefeet

This year marked 20 years that my husband and I (and now our children) have traveled to Ecuador for his research as an anthropologist. Two decades ago the organization miraclefeet did not exist, so it’s very interesting that my work with them today is so pertinent throughout a country where clubfoot is so prevalent. This South American country that straddles the equator is in desperate need of clubfoot programs and I had the opportunity to meet with doctors and hospital administrators in its urban and rural centers during my six week stay.

First, it’s worth noting that although the healthcare system in Ecuador has come a long way in the past 20 years, it still needs work. The current government is providing free healthcare for all children with the eventual goal of universal healthcare for all Ecuadorians.  Although great progress has been made, the healthcare system remains fragmented and under-funded.

On my visits to major hospitals like Hospital Baca Ortiz in Quito or Hospital Roberto Gilbert and Hospital Ycaza Bustamente in Guayaquil, there were long lines of people waiting to see a handful of doctors.  Still the current political administration is paying more than lip service to healthcare provision and has moved all special needs or disability programming to the office of Vice President Lenín Boltaire Moreno Garcés who coincidentally uses a wheelchair due to a gunshot wound he suffered to the back in 1998. For the first time in the country’s history, the issues surrounding special needs or disabled individuals have been brought to the fore. 

Even now, however, there needs to be widespread training and more awareness around clubfoot and correcting it using the Ponseti Method. At the Clubfoot Symposium in June at the Hospital de Roberto Gilbert Elizalde, our intern learned that although doctors knew about the Ponseti Method of treatment, it wasn’t widely used across the country. Dr. Torres from Hospital de Roberto Gilbert Elizalde informed us that he and four other doctors use the Ponseti Method in his hospital. I explained that our goal right now is to support the program in Dr. Torres’ hospital while also bringing programs at Hospital Baca Ortiz and other major public institutions on board. We were told pointblank that if Hospital Baca Ortiz came on board, the rest of the healthcare facilities would follow.

My travels also took me to smaller villages, but again, clubfoot treatment using the Ponseti Method was uncommon. Even wealthy families and patients were unfamiliar with the Ponseti Method and thus, there is great opportunity for miraclefeet to establish meaningful programs across Ecuador. All in all, my travels were successful as we received nods of support or proposed commitment from three major public metropolitan hospitals, University of San Francisco in Quito’s School of Public Health, Fundacion Hermano Miguel, Fundacion Vida Saludable and the Vice President’s Office. I even had the fortune of speaking with the Director of Operation Smile in Ecuador who was extremely supportive of miraclefeet’s work.

We intend to launch a miraclefeet Ecuador program in 2012 pending fundraising efforts, but if my Ecuadorian sojourn is any indication of the success we’ll experience, I know we’ll be able to give the gift of walking to the more than 300 children born in Ecuador each year with clubfoot, as well as the thousands who currently struggle to live with untreated clubfoot. Many thanks to everyone here stateside making a difference too…onward and upward!!

Ashland Cross Country raises over $3,000 for miraclefeet

    

On Wednesday, July 13 the Ashland Cross Country team of Ashland, OH embarked on a 24-hour Run-A-Thon to benefit miraclefeet. Their goal was to raise more than $2,000 and they shattered that goal by raising more than $3,000! With this money, miraclefeet can provide treatment to children in developing nations, so that they may walk normally and have a productive life. A special thank you goes out to Coach Tim Black (who suffered from clubfeet as a child before they were corrected) and his entire cross country team. Take a look at the Fox 8 news segment here.

                  

The estimated number of children with clubfoot

An estimated one out of 1,000 children is born with clubfoot.  This number does not vary significantly across ethnic or socio-economic groups.  As a result, the condition is spread evenly throughout all populations and countries.  About half the cases are bi-lateral (both feet affected).  Slightly more boys than girls are affected.

 Eighty percent of the roughly 200,000 children born with clubfoot each year live in developing countries.  The University of Iowa estimates that fewer than 3% (approximately 20,000-30,000) of the roughly 800,000 children born with clubfoot in developing countries in the last five years have been treated with the Ponseti Method.  It is estimated that up to 80% of the remaining 770,000 children have received no treatment at all.   Those who have received treatment are most likely to have been treated with a combination of poorly implemented castings, which aggravate the problem, and surgery, usually once the child is over the age of five, resulting in stiff, painful and partially corrected feet.

Of those treated with the Ponseti Method, little is known about how well treatment has been implemented.  Data on brace compliance and long-term relapse rates in developing countries Is limited, in part because most projects have only focused on the casting phase of treatment, paying less attention to the equally important bracing phase.

miraclefeet conservatively estimates over 1 million people live with untreated clubfoot around the world. Other organizations believe there could be as many as 3 million living with untreated clubfoot. 

The miraclefeet approach to treat clubfoot

The miraclefeet approach has three basic principles:

  •  miraclefeet provides performance-based grants to partner hospitals in developing countries to increase the number of children being treated.
  • miraclefeet supports the full Ponseti Method treatment, including bracing, to ensure that ensure optimal long-term outcomes. (miraclefeet does not fund surgery with the exception of the tenotomy, which is a minor procedure requiring local anesthesia.)
  • miraclefeet seeks to influence hospital and national health policy to create sustainable programs using its results to build the case for the Ponseti Method as a solution for clubfoot.

By investing in local expertise and infrastructure, rather than flying US doctors into countries or building clinics from scratch, the miraclefeet approach is sustainable, scalable and low cost.

July is ‘Make a Difference to a Child Month’

                    

Did you know that July is Make a Difference to a Child Month? Did you further know that miraclefeet believes that every month should be dedicated to enriching the lives of children? That’s why we work hard to ensure children in developing nations such as Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and India can walk normally and treat clubfoot with a non-invasive procedure using the Ponseti Method.

We have numerous stories about children who can now walk, run and play with their friends without the shame and stigma attached to clubfoot. A lot of these inspirational stories can be found on our website and we’d love to add more with your help. So how can you make a difference? Easy!

By giving to our Summer of Miracles Challenge you can help give the gift of walking to a child forever. You merely go online to our secure form and fill out the necessary information and hit send. It’s that easy. The money will be used to provide treatment to children, buy plaster and supplies for casting or for leg braces.

You can help children like Alino, Alan or Deborah who have already benefited from miraclefeet and its team of international doctors. Help make a difference in the life of a child this month and donate to miraclefeet today!

miraclefeet intern reports from Ecuador

This blog post is adapted from a post on Austin Shaw’s blog who is currently in Ecuador as a summer intern for miraclefeet. Picture below is of the Otavalo Market in Ecuador.

                        

This week I was assigned the task of analyzing club foot in the area of Otavalo, most famous for its all-day, everyday market. Our goal here is to get an understanding of clubfoot in more rural areas, since we are planning to partner with doctors in the major cities of Quito and Guayaquil.

First on the list of clinics and hospitals was “Hambi Wuasi.”  Because the clinic wasn’t busy, I met immediately with the director. There are certain days when my Spanish is rudely incoherent, and lucky me, I chose my first day of real interviews! Nevertheless, I discovered some very interesting information:

  • According to the director, the clinic hasn’t seen any clubfoot patients since his tenure began.
  • If there were a club foot patient, he/she would be sent to El Hospital San Luis.
  • The clinic doesn’t have the ability to treat clubfoot; it’s focus is primary care and not much else. If someone has a significant problem, he/she will go to San Luis.
  • The clinic is partially free. The Ministry of Health provides some funding. A consultation is $5. Any medicine is also $5.
  • The director explained that his clinic offers modern and traditional medicine (Otavalo is a very traditional town where many Quichua people reside).
  • The director had never heard of the Ponseti Method.

Getting a meeting with the director of San Luis hospital was more difficult.  Her secretary required that I write a letter in Spanish explaining the need for a meeting, who I am, and available times. While you may wince at my speech, you would literally cry at my writing (a bit of a stretch; my writing isn’t half bad, although I resort to the present tense mostly). After about 30 minutes, I was told that the director is ready for me. The director was very busy, but I managed to find out: 

  • There aren’t many people with foot problems at San Luis.
  • It’s a basic hospital with internal medicine, etc.; but no orthopedic ward.
  • If there are any surgeries, they are basic and on bones. 
  • Every service is free here, thanks to the Ministry of Health.
  • If a clubfoot patient came to the hospital, he/she would be referred to Baca Ortiz.

I found it troubling that the Hambi Wuasi director said he would refer clubfoot patients to San Luis, while the San Luis director said she would refer them to Baca Ortiz Hospital (the large publich children’s hospital in Quito). This means someone with clubfoot in Otavalo will be shuffled around from one hospital to the next, finally ending up in Baca Ortiz. Ideally, parents will take their child with clubfoot to the nearest clinic to get treatment.

The Ponseti Method is fairly simple when the right tools are available. Because clubfoot treatment in Otavalo is essentially nonexistent, the parent must take his/her month(s)-old child to Quito, a 2.5 hour bus ride. There, the parent and child must take a metro, bus, or expensive taxi to Baca Ortiz, which is a good distance from the bus station. Upon reaching Baca Ortiz, the parent and child must wait in an endless line for potentially hours. They will probably have to spend the night in Quito with either family or at a pricey hotel near the hospital in order to make it back the next day to stand in line again.

This summer miraclefeet is getting a concrete understanding of clubfoot across Ecuador. Ideally, the clubfoot patients in rural areas would receive some help in getting access to treatment. This could be through mobile care or partnerships with other international health organizations that might know of people with clubfoot.