News / Africa

South Sudan's Disabled Get New Treatment Facility

A patient at the International Committee of the Red Cross amputee center took the prosthetic leg of a deceased relative after years of waiting, Rumbek, South Sudan, February 2013. (H. McNeish/VOA)
A patient at the International Committee of the Red Cross amputee center took the prosthetic leg of a deceased relative after years of waiting, Rumbek, South Sudan, February 2013. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Hannah McNeish
Daily life in South Sudan is a struggle for most.

But for the countless number of people disabled during decades of war and neglect, the options are slim to none. They are often voiceless and left to rot at home, shunned by the community and helpless in a country where the most basic of services are unavailable.

The International Committee of the Red Cross hopes that an amputee center, though, will give thousands in the worst-hit northern states a new lease on life.

At a dusty workshop behind Rumbek’s main health facility, a small team is dusting off case files of more than 2,200 amputee patients from South Sudan’s four northern states. They registered soon after a peace deal in 2005 ended five decades of civil war, but most are still waiting for a prosthetic limb.

A U.S. Agency for International Development-funded medical charity gave an amputee center to the government in 2009. But it fell to waste as there were no adequate resources to keep it running.

South Sudan split from the north in 2011, but the grossly underdeveloped country has yet to provide its war-weary population with “the fruits of peace” such as clean water, basic education and healthcare.

William Luk Majak, who lost his leg to a gunshot wound in 1985 when fighting came to Rumbek, laments the lack of services for the disabled, but said the government’s hands are tied while peace with Sudan remains elusive.

“Although we are independent, there is still the demarcation of the border, plus other issues, even the shutting down of the oil has actually made services to be rendered, even within the government itself, it’s difficult," said Majak. "So, even services for the disabled, like running this workshop for repair purposes, is difficult.”
Some patients waited years for the amputee center to restart and struggled with old prostheses or on crutches, Rumbek, South Sudan, February 2013. (H. McNeish/VOA)Some patients waited years for the amputee center to restart and struggled with old prostheses or on crutches, Rumbek, South Sudan, February 2013. (H. McNeish/VOA)

Expanding services

Grand development plans had to be shelved last year after South Sudan shut down oil production in a dispute with Sudan. Oil production accounts for almost 98% of its revenue and almost everything was on hold.

But now the International Committee of the Red Cross is working to expand services outside its Juba amputee center. ICRC’s chief prosthetic specialist, Gerald Fitzpatrick, said they are undertaking the mammoth task of trying to track down those who requested a new limb years ago. They also are helping others trapped in rural areas and the newly injured.

“It’s important for them to have a better quality of life. One thing that most people don’t realize, is if you’re an amputee and use crutches, it takes a lot more energy to walk from point A to point B than an able-bodied person. So it’s quality of life and mobility.
It’s our role here at ICRC to make the lives of the physically challenged better,” he said.

Being more mobile means everything to 35-year-old Mary Pech Bak who was bitten by a snake in 1991 and had her leg amputated in the bush. She said she is lucky because her prosthesis means that she can earn a living as a cleaner, unlike others who don't have one.

“They suffer. They cannot get a car to go anywhere. They cannot get a bicycle, even they cannot eat well. They are nothing," she said.

Marginalizing the disabled

Manyang Ader joined the rebel movement when it began in the 1960s. He survived the war unscathed, but lost his leg to a buffalo while hunting. He said that before his prosthesis, his life was extremely difficult.

“When I had no limb,” he said, “I used to go and defecate just to a near place and people would look at me. I couldn’t get around and I wouldn’t be able to do any kind of job. I just crawled around and didn’t bring anything to the family.”

John Maker is an awareness advisor with the Sudan Disabled Rehabilitation and Development Agency [SDRDA]. He said the disabled are marginalized at every level of society and many simply cannot cope.

“They are the last disabled in the world, because most of the disabled are illiterate, they are not educated. They don’t know their rights even. They don’t have a voice to raise their concerns in the community, whether in the public participation, whether in the family
participation. Some of them end up doing suicide. They kill themselves, as they are not considered in the family, in the community,” said Maker.

Since opening 10 years ago, SDRDA's mission has been to help those that, until now, no one else would.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs