Today it’s Tobias Pflanz, cbm's Fundraising Field Co-ordinator, who is sharing with us how New Zealanders make a difference. He is based in Uganda's capital Kampala and responsible for cbm's Representative Child Sponsorship Programme there.
They are very sturdy, but comfortable to wear. “On top of that they even look fancy,” Victoria says with a broad smile. She is an Orthopaedic Officer at CoRSU Hospital here in Uganda – and likes to talk about shoes (as women usually do). And these tiny shoes are something really special; they come from far away, have a eccentric design and are not cheap.
Well, they would not cause a great sensation at any fashion show in the world, but that’s not what it is all about anyway. It’s all about the effect – and an effect they have. These shoes are not for Victoria. They are for the smallest patients at CoRSU Hospital. Babies like 6-month-old Viston, who was born with club feet – which means that his feet had rotated internally at the ankle.
This kind of deformity occurs relatively often here in Uganda. To correct the position of the small boy’s feet in a gentle way, CoRSU specialists put them in cast for several weeks. He also underwent a small surgery.
“Still, there is a high risk that the feet might fall back into their old position if they don’t get strong support. That’s why these shoes are so important. They are interconnected with a metal bar. That’s how they can keep the feet in the correct position,” CoRSU staff member Victoria says.
Up to now this kind of shoes was manufactured locally. “But the quality was poor. The metal bars were easily bent, which is not helpful at all for the therapy and which might even cause a lot of pain for the children. But these new shoes are really strong; it’s us alone who can adjust them. Our little patients are really happy with them,” Victoria adds. Little Viston’s mother agrees: “They look great. But what’s even more important is their strength. With the old ones it was even risky to sit in a crowded shared taxi because the metal between shoes would bend so easily. I don’t think that will happen with these ones. They also seem to be more comfortable. My son doesn’t cry anymore when he is wearing them,” Margret relates. That’s how these tiny so-called Ponseti or club feet shoes have a great effect. Little Viston is one of many small patients.
Orthopaedic Officer Victoria sees up to 30 children with club feet a day in her clinic. The demand for these shoes is really high. The new shoes came to us in a big parcel from New Zealand. The Ponsetti shoes were donated by a Clinic who care for children with club feet. It is fantastic that the shoes can be used again and make a difference for children like Viston.
“I want to say thank you very much in the name of CoRSU and all our small patients”, Victoria smiles. And I am happily joining in with her.
With warmest regards from Uganda