miraclefeet’s partnership with Faith Clinical Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center (FACORC) in Liberia began in August 2013 after Dr. Augustine Chiewolo received training from Ponseti International Association (PIA) in Iowa. miraclefeet funds most of the operating costs of the FACORC clubfoot program, although the FACORC team generously volunteer their time. 180 children have been enrolled in treatment since miraclefeet started providing financial support to FACORC. Two trainings by PIA-endorsed providers were held for health care workers and lay advocates and discussions have been held with at least 5 hospitals and clinics to create additional satellite clinics around the country. FACORC provides extensive community outreach program via radio publicity, newspaper articles and the training of community outreach workers. FACORC recently engaged in discussions with government officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and received positive responses for developing a national program. The plan is to open three more rural clinics over the next year. We estimate that over 1,000 children total are living with untreated clubfoot in Liberia. We want to make that number a ZERO!
Our miraclefeet partners in Liberia at FACORC would like to extend their gratitude to AIFO for affording them the opportunity to increase awareness about clubfoot by training 13 new community-based rehab outreach field workers about clubfoot in Liberia. AIFO is a non-profit organization whose staff members work with disabled children in remote areas of Liberia to improve their quality of life. Because of this training, these field workers will now be able to identify kids with clubfoot, referring them for proper treatment and providing follow-up support to children with clubfoot and their family members.The field workers reported that, prior to the training, they had limited knowledge of clubfoot, including its cause, its treatment and the impact it can have if left untreated. FACORC educated the field workers on clubfoot, its treatment and how the field workers can contribute to successful outcomes for children with clubfoot. Together, the thirteen participants represented nearly each of the fifteen total counties in Liberia. This training will allow lay health workers to participate more actively in identifying and treating clubfoot all over Liberia, spreading the word about how to identify and treat this common disability.
Stephen is a 12 year old whose life has been defined by clubfoot. He was abandoned at a young age by his family, has never gone to school or had any friends. This is how Mrs. Akuny Toe discovered him while she was in a suburb of Paynesville.
Akuny knew immediately how Stephen felt because she grew up with bilateral clubfoot. In the 1960s some American missionaries found her and paid for her to have surgery to correct her feet. She had heard about the miraclefeet-sponsored clinic and asked Stephen if he would like to have his feet corrected.
This week Stephen had his last cast removed and is walking for the first time in his life. People in his community have been astonished at his results. He looks forward to going to school for the first time. Thanks for your help in making such a huge change in Stephen’s life!
Many of you may remember Maima and Youkoi, twelve-year-old twins from rural Liberia, who had never been treated for clubfoot and had never been to school.
Their growth was stunted from lack of nutrition, and they rarely smiled. Maima and Youkoi’s parents couldn’t afford to send them to classes because the twins required at least one parent to care for them at all times.
“Youkoi and his twin sister have never entered (a) class room because they could not balance on their feet nor walk normally. They were always laughed at by their peers and even adults in the community,” said Maima and Youkoi’s father.
Then Maima and Youkoi’s parents heard from a local midwife that free Ponseti clubfoot treatment was available for the first time ever in Liberia, at a miraclefeet-sponsored clinic. So they traveled eight hours to the clinic in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.
That’s when miraclefeet first met the twins. Because of the severity of their clubfoot and relatively old age, Maima and Youkoi stayed at the clinic for a full week to be treated by seasoned practitioners. Lauren, miraclefeet Program Manager, was there for their entire stay: “I saw them every day for five consecutive days. I never saw them smile.”
What a difference 6 months makes.
In October, FACORC, miraclefeet’s partnering organization in Liberia, sent the report every parent, doctor and supporter longs to hear: After a series of castings and bracing, Youkoi had completely recovered from his clubfoot and was walking normally. By January, Maima joined him fully recovered. Youkoi and Maima walk without pain for the first times in their lives.
To celebrate their beautifully corrected feet, Crocs Cares generously donated a pair of Crocs for each of the twins and other children at the clinic. With healed feet and shoes to support them, there was one important place Maima and Youkoi could finally go.
On January 3, 2013, the people of the twins’ hometown in Lofa County were amazed to see Maima and Youkoi walking to school for the first time in their lives. No longer laughed at daily because of their clubfeet, these incredible siblings proudly proved to an entire community that they had received the best gift possible—the gift of walking.
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