The reality that so many children can run and play and be normal children after receiving treatment for club foot really gets me excited. It makes me cry when I let it sink in that not every baby will just naturally be able to participate in this world because of a condition of which the cause is not completely known, and is so debilitating but yet is so easily treatable.
Club foot affects over 160 000 children yearly (over 430 babies everyday…) More than 80% of those are in developing countries that lack the resources to do anything about this. There are approximately 445 babies born with club foot each year in Benin alone. Clubfoot impacts not only on the individual child, but each household is burdened by a grown child or adult who did not go to school, does not marry and cannot work because of their disability. The community is disadvantaged that much more by it and the effect continues on and on and on… Every one child that is cured becomes that much more able to be a functioning member of their community.
The Ponseti Method is a simple and relatively cost effective way of making a massive change. With 5 – 7 serial castings, a small outpatient procedure called a tenotomy and special bracing a clubfoot can be corrected into a pain free functional foot. By training more people to treat clubfoot there can be an exponential impact on the human race. It’s that simple. And it’s that massive. This gives me a lumpy throat and my eyes well with tears; a mixture of deep conviction and excitement floods my heart. See what Oxford University aims to do through Africa Club Foot Training held in different parts of Africa by watching this short clip. It’s great to see organisations, governments and individuals who are passionate and investing in life.
I’ve been exposed to some incredible sights and beautiful people, passionate people during my Mercy Ships journey. People with vision and a heart to see, and be, the change. It’s made me look outside the box and dream BIG, because, why not?! That’s what we were made for, right? – To love and serve others and what better way than in something that drives me passionately forward toward a better world?
You may remember Cyriane.. if not, spend some time watching her story. I am amazed that I was even a part of her story. It was not by any means all my doing, I was just learning about Ponseti then and yet by God’s grace and His uncanny attention to detail the stars lined up and it so happened that the communications team on board were following her story and I got to talk about it. So now you get to see the video showing the change. Feel the change, and let it move you. Below is some of the mentoring and teaching in action as we treat the local patients.
I am excited for what the Mercy Ships Ponseti Program promises. There is such vision for the future and it has already come a long way in the 5 or so years that its been running. Our program focuses on mentoring local health care workers to equip them with the clinical skills to treat club foot. It also mentors them in managing and running a club foot clinic. Where do they get supplies from?, how do you build relationships with stake holders and build up a referral base? How do you train other health care workers to continue expanding? It’s a truly unique program in that it’s the only one in the world focused on an intense 10 month mentoring period which aims to improve existing clinics in West Africa to a world class standard and start up and leave new clinics fully capable of running at the highest standard when Mercy Ships sails on to the field service in the next country.
This field service in Benin Mercy Ships is partnering with CURE which is a Christian health care network to provide support and training to the local clinic, Cabinet des Kinésithérapeutes Associés, here in Cotonou to help improve the clinician’s skills. Below is a picture of Nick the Ponseti Clinic Coordinator who I am learning from and training with; and Melchior ,the local physiotherapist who runs the clinic and is one of the mentorees in the program . They had a great day and were proud to hang the beautiful sign up out side this, the first, Ponseti Clinic in Benin providing free treatment to children ages 0-2 years.These are 3 of the first 10 babies during this field service who have just finished the casting and tenotomy phase of their life changing treatment. Aren’t they just the sweetest!?
I’m excited to be more involved with the Ponseti Program and am asking you to please join me in prayer as the organisation starts preparing for the start of Cameroon in August. I also appreciate and need your financial support to allow me to continue my work with Mercy Ships. There is much to be done and it’s both a privilege and a responsibility to be a part of this. If you would like to be a part of making tangible and beautiful changes in this world then you can donate toward the work that I am doing at my donor page website.
May you feel the richness of a life lived for others.