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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.