Two months ago, we took some time to reflect on International Day of the Girl, a day devoted to celebrating and advancing opportunities for girls across the globe. We noted that for women living with disabilities, prospects for education and employment are particularly limited.
But women aren’t the only ones living with disability around the world: approximately 650 million people—10% of the world’s population—live with a disability. So we want to take a moment now to discuss the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Convention is working to increase opportunity for children living with disabilities like clubfoot through a number of avenues.
And this work is essential. Developing countries, like the ones miraclefeet partners with, are home to 80% of people living with disability in the world, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Further, the World Bank estimates that 20% of the world’s poorest people are disabled.
To address these staggering inequalities, the Convention seeks to prevent children with disabilities like clubfoot from being “weeded out,” forgotten by society as they struggle to survive with limited ability and resources.
The Convention addresses this goal in a number of ways:
And the convention recognizes that educating not just those living with disability, but educating the rest of the world about disability is equally important. Starting conversations with the medical and general populations on the treatment of clubfoot is a huge step toward increasing access worldwide.
By reading this post and visiting miraclefeet’s website, you are an integral part of this important conversation. Thank you.
To give the gift of walking this holiday season to children like Maima and Youkoi, visit: https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1001406
Here 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.
Last week, miraclefeet program director Lauren returned to Liberia, where we first partnered with a clinic in August. Now, four and a half months later, miraclefeet’s partnering clinics in Liberia have seen and supported over 60 new patients. Children that had no chance for treatment are now on their way to walking thanks to miraclefeet’s supporters and partnering nurses and practitioners.
Two of those patients are Maima and Youkoi, twelve-year-old twins from rural Liberia. Maima and Youkoi had never been to school. Their growth has been stunted from lack of nutrition. Their parents weren’t able to have more children because taking care of two twins with clubfoot is a full-time job…and one that would last the rest of their lives.
We first met Maima and Youkoi when their father brought them six hours from Lofa County to Bong County where miraclefeet was holding a training. Maimai, Youkoi, and their father sat in the back seat of a car while we drove through the rain eight hours back to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, so that they could stay at the main clinic with more seasoned practitioners. “I saw them every day for five consecutive days. I never saw them smile,” said Lauren.
Below is a photo of Maima and Youkoi before treatment—beautiful kids with painfully twisted feet.
And here is a photo of what Lauren saw on her return trip—Maima and Youkoi now.
The first smiles we had ever seen on their faces.
Says Lauren: “I am embarrassed to admit that I buried my face in my hands and cried. Sometimes in the day to day we forget what’s important… budget numbers… increasing supply costs…. does it really matter?”
Together—miraclefeet, donors, supporters, nurses, practitioners—we are changing lives. Maima and Youkoi are just one reminder of what it really means to give a child the gift of walking.
Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Consider giving the gift of walking to families like Maima and Youkoi’s this holiday season: https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1001406
miraclefeet director Chesca is in beautiful Botswana, exploring how best to establish a clubfoot program in the region. Working alongside amazing partners Steps South Africa and a mother from Botswana, Chesca sent us this exciting update from across the world:
Chesca’s Update from Botswana
“A great day in Gaborone for miraclefeet and Steps South Africa, spent with Tshepag Chilume, Botswana clubfoot champion and parent of a child successfully treated with the Ponseti Method. Chesca, Director of miraclefeet, and Karen Moss, founder and Director of Steps South Africa, are working to support the establishment of a program driven largely by Tshepang, a dynamic and energetic parent, along with a group of local doctors, physiotherapists and concerned citizens.
We started the day with a very positive meeting with the Director of Public Health in the Ministry of Health. This was followed by a press briefing on the planned launch of a Botswana Clubfoot Program, attended by doctors, journalists and a Rotary representative - and then a radio interview on a live chat show. Several meetings with the Director of Princess Marina Hospital, the senior Orthopedic surgeon in Botswana and the Head of Orthotics and Prosthetics confirmed great support for establishing a Ponseti clubfoot program in the public hospitals in Botswana in early 2013.
It was an extraordinarily positive start to a program that will hopefully eradicate untreated clubfoot in Botswana and highlights the power of working with local clubfoot champions and clubfoot parents.”
Scott and Drake are high school sophomores. And they’re selling shoes to give the gift of walking.
miraclefeet provides clubfoot treatment to children in developing countries around the world. This work reveals itself in a number of ways: from providing materials to sponsoring clinics to training doctors, nurses and counselors. But none of this would be possible without the generosity of our donors. And our donors come from all walks of life—parents of children with clubfoot, people with no connections to clubfoot at all, men, women, adults…and even young people.
We have already introduced you to two amazing girls, Natalie and Caroline, who looked into their own backyard and made a difference. You can read more about their story here: http://miraclefeet.tumblr.com/post/28345573874/providing. Now we are thrilled to introduce you to two more young people with big hearts—and big dreams—who instead of looking outside, looked online.
Scott Diekema and Drake Danner hail from Iowa City—also home to the University of Iowa and Dr. Ignacio Ponseti who developed the Ponseti Method, now the most widely-accepted clubfoot treatment.
When Drake introduced Scott to his love of collecting and re-selling rare sneakers (think Retro Jordans and limited Nike releases), an idea was born. Scott was familiar with clubfoot and miraclefeet’s mission and had been wanting to do something to help.
So Scott and Drake teamed up and formed Shoes4Change. Now they find, buy and re-sell rare sneakers and donate the proceeds to miraclefeet, helping children around the world receive free clubfoot treatment.
Thanks Scott and Drake!
Check out Shoes4Change’s website and get your own pair of cool kicks: http://shoes4change.org/
Donate now and give the gift of walking: https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1001406
Or come up with your own creative way to fight clubfoot—we love working with our wonderful donors!
But we want to go a little further and share with you why that day was so important.
A lot has been written about the disadvantages women experience across the globe, particularly in developing countries, where gender-based violence and inequalities in hiring and pay are very much a reality.
Now imagine being a girl or woman with clubfoot. If girls living with clubfoot in developing countries don’t get treated, they can’t get educated—schools are often located miles away. Educating girls has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the most important things we can do to reduce poverty and hunger in our world. But right now, out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school-youth, 70% are girls. For women living with disabilities, the global literacy rate is less than 1%. Given the opportunity to attend school, girls on average reinvest 90% of their income back into their families.
Treating girls like Blessing not only heals her—it contributes to her family, community, and ultimately our world.
The United Nations held a Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities to discuss the huge inequalities for people living with impairments like clubfoot. The UN recognizes that “women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation.” Treating girls with clubfoot can change their lives.
When Blessing took her first steps on sturdy feet, she wasn’t just walking toward her mother. She was taking the first step toward a life filled with opportunity. miraclefeet is proud to work alongside our global partners and bring free clubfoot treatment to girls in developing countries. As we strive to give the gift of walking around the world, we are committed to treating every day like its International Day of the Girl.
Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities, Footnote 6. General Assembly resolution 61/106 of 13 December 2006, Preambular paragraph (q).
miraclefeet wouldn’t be the same without its amazing interns. It’s time you get to know them!
Joss Warren, Intern, Indian Programs: University of North Carolina
Career Goal: I want to become a doctor and hopefully work overseas in some kind of medical and public health capacity.
Best part about interning with miraclefeet: My favorite part of interning with miraclefeet is how challenging the work is. I am constantly given tasks that are outside of my comfort zone and help to increase my range of abilities within the workplace. I am also learning a lot about what it takes to effectively manage a non profit organization, which is something that is relevant to my hopeful career path.
What’s Next: After college I am hoping to go to medical school and pursue a graduate degree in public health.
Mary Charles Hale, Intern, Social Media: North Carolina State University
Career Goal: In the most general answer possible, I hope to have a career that makes me happy and has a positive impact on the world. I love to write, I love to travel, and I love to laugh, so a career that combined all three would be great! I would be head over heels to end up in an organization like miraclefeet. Either that or become stage manager of Good Morning America.
Best part about interning with miraclefeet: I have two favorite parts—I couldn’t pick just one! First, the people. Chesca, Lauren and Leslie have all been so welcoming and are a really fun, caring and committed group of people to work with. The stories I have heard and the children I have learned about since interning with miraclefeet are the other best part. miraclefeet is doing incredible work around the world and getting to share stories like Jorgito’s and Melvin’s and Marli’s is a special job.
What’s Next: This year I plan on playing a lot of trivia, watching the Wolfpack win an NCAA Basketball Championship and finishing my senior year as an English major at NC State University.
Taylor Craig, Intern, Research and Outcomes: North Carolina State University
Career Goal: To work for an organization that promotes global health care and addresses health care needs around the world.
Best part about interning for miraclefeet: Being a part of a passionate team of professionals that work to improve the lives and create positive outcomes for families in low-income countries.
Whats next: Continue to raise awareness of the importance of health care around the world, continue to gain experience through internships and traveling before going onto graduate school for a Masters in Public Health.
Remember Jorgito? We first met him back when miraclefeet Program Manager Lauren was visiting our partnering clinic in Nicaragua.
Everyone is so excited for Jorgito’s transformation, no more so than Lauren who has watched him throughout this journey: “Seeing Jorgito walk, slowly but surely, and giving him a high five, seeing how happy he and his parents were, reminded me of how amazing and life changing this work is.”
Now take a look at these pictures of Jorgito and his incredible progress!
Here are Jorgito’s feet a year ago, before treatment…
And here are Jorgito’s feet today, after castings…
This is the dramatic change possible with the Ponseti treatment. We are so happy for Jorgito and can’t wait to be a part of even more transformations around the world!
The other great part about clubfoot treatment? The smiling faces. :)