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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid