Victims learn to stand tall

2011-10-15 19:08

From a tiny waiting room in Rundu State Hospital in northern Namibia, Johannes Mjamba (50) limps in on a crutch.

His shoes are torn and filled with sand. A sweat-stained cap is noticeable as he pulls himself onto the bed.

“Lift your trouser leg. Let’s see what the problem is,” a staff member says. Hospital staff members and prosthetists, who have worked with amputees for years, are stunned.

Mjamba shows them a home-made prosthetic leg that looks more like a prehistoric robotic invention than a walking aid.

He made his left leg from an old water pipe, scraps of metal, twigs and a block of wood.

He tells them he lost his leg in 2001 after he stepped on a landmine next to a river on the Angolan border while fetching reeds for the roof of his house.

He managed to get hold of an old prosthetic leg but, about two years ago, he lost it in a fire when his house burnt down. It was then that he took matters into his own hands.

Mjamba’s new leg wasn’t perfect – because of the materials he had used, every step hurt – but it was better than the alternative.

Then he heard on the radio that a group of prosthetists from OK Prosthetics would be visiting his town and that people in his situation could come for help. And so he did.

After an hour, he had been fitted with a new leg. Eager to test it, he got up and headed towards the training stairs.

The leg was such an improvement that he didn’t realise he had left his crutch on the floor.

Mjamba walked out of the hospital that same afternoon, leaving behind his crutch and his homemade leg.

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