I asked him what name he was going to give his new leg. He was quiet for a minute. A couple of fleeting furrows creased his brows. Then he answered, nodding with assured confidence, “Favored Leg.”
It was apt.
He could not have chosen a better name for his new prosthetic limb. He is Chidiebere. He is ten years. He is the fifth of five children. His father died when he was three months old. His mother who is a petty trader takes care of him. Chidiebere lost his leg following an accident when the bathroom wall fell on him at the age of 5 years. It was a full leg, trans-femoral amputation with an extremely short stump.
His disability notwithstanding, Chidiebere is hard working. He had just completed his Primary 4 School examinations. He helps his mother with household chores—cooking, sweeping, and running errands. He does this hopping on one leg with his crutches. He had overgrown his first prosthetic limb. He desperately needed a new one. That was how the Feet of Grace Foundation got connected to Chidiebere by the Irede Foundation.
He was the first beneficiary of the funds raised during and after the Feet of Grace 5k Charity Walk; “Hit The Street For Their Feet” held in Geneva in April 2015. The fundraising event brought us in contact with Center for Integrated Health Program at the recommendation of my husband’s old school mate—an evidence of favor. The Center donated the entire funds for Chidiebere’s prosthetic limb.
But favor did not stop there, the Center proposed to support Chidiebere beyond the provision of aprostheticleg. So they requested to meet with his family. That was part of my mission to Nigeria in July. I met his mother in Lagos on Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 at a meeting organized by TheIrede Foundation, the sponsors of the first prosthetic leg. She was full of gratitude to everyone who contributed towards Chidiebere getting a new prosthetic leg.
It was while watching the video made following the fitting of the first prosthetic limb that I heard Chidiebere saying that he wanted to finish his education and become a doctor— dream beyond his current circumstances.
I was eager to meet with the young lad. I wanted to hear him tell me his dreams and aspiration. I wanted to hear this young boy who is not allowing his challenges and difficult circumstances to kill his dream.
I traveled to Enugu in the eastern part of Nigeria on Monday, July 21st, 2015. It was an hour flight from Lagos. I traveled with another amazing young girl, who is living life to the full despite being an amputee—Beulah is just six years old. She is such a sweet girl. She is another proof that disability is a thing of the mind. She is the daughter of the founder of the Irede Foundation.
Chidiebere was learning how to use his new prosthetic leg during a post-fitting session when I got to the clinic—Othofit. He stood tall on his new leg, still uncovered to allow for necessary adjustments as the technicians ensure proper alignment and equilibrium.
We talked. We walked together. I introduced him to my Feet of Grace, “You are not alone in this” I told him. He was amused that I gave my prosthetic legs a name. Then I asked him what he would like to call his.
His answer indicated the depth of his understanding of the immensity of the favor and grace shown to him. Everything is turning around in his favor especially with the prospect of having his path towards fulfilling his dream supported by strangers.
We visited his home and his school. We spoke with his sisters and teachers. Both sites depicted the abject poverty and the harsh realities of the environment whereChidieberelives. It was certainly not friendly for the disabled. For Chidiebere, there is a glimmer of hope shimmering like silver lining around the dark clouds—this is the manifestation of favor.
I left Chidiebere with words of my husband ringing in my ears, “Perhaps, Chidiebere may not have had the opportunity to walk again and dream of a bright future if you did not lose your legs.”
One thing was sure, I would not be campaigning for the cause of amputees living in poor communities today if I am not an amputee myself. I certainly would not have had such an honor of meeting champions like Chidiebere and Beulah, who have refused to let their disability define them or limit them from dreaming of a bright future. These kids are a great inspiration to me.
The visit highlighted critical gaps in the area of post-fitting physiotherapy care and support for both for the amputees, their immediate family, and caregivers. This is an area Feet of Grace Foundation will be seeking to strengthen shortly with the support of our friends.