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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid