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.
There are 93 children in treatment in Liberia! Our clinics in Monrovia and Bong County are getting a steady stream of new patients. The children range in age from infants to 12 years old. Our hope, is that that longer we are in the country, the more we will be treating children who are referred to the clinic as soon as they are born, so no child will have to grow up with clubfoot. The Ponseti Method is already getting a great reputation in Liberia for having fantastic results. Thank you for all your support in changing these children's lives forever!
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.”
With the continued generosity of the GlobalGiving community, 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 80 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.
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Director of Fundraising