In this series, Legs4Africa is taking a look at the lives of Gambian amputees. We want to give you a snap shot of normal people doing normal things despite disability and in some cases, thriving whilst they do so.
The police are often on the front line, putting themselves in dangerous situations to protect the public. unfortunately, in places like Gambia, when injuries do occur, they are often poorly treated resulting in infection and, consequently, amputation. This is exactly what happened to Alieo Touray.
When on duty the 52 year old police officer was run down by a car and the sub sequential injury to his leg led to the need to amputate the limb. This, of course, was a great setback for Alieo who, until then, had spent much of his time travelling about his district gathering information for reports.
With his wife and child at home, he had to secure an income that didn’t rely on hitting the streets and, if the loss of the leg wasn’t enough to deal with, Alieo also had the worry of how his colleagues would see him.
“They would see me lower as an amputee, they would think me inactive, unable to do this and that and people would make assumptions.”
At the time he felt very discouraged, life seemed bleak and he felt like he lacked purpose. Recalling the time before receiving his prosthetic from Legs4Africa he said:
“Without a prosthetic leg we cannot walk and without walking life is useless to us.”
He realised that immobility meant more than just not being able to get about, it meant a lack of purpose, a lack of direction, the lack of a fulfilling life.
Three years ago Alieo received his first prosthetic leg from Legs4Africa. Instead of returning to work, where he feared being pitied by his colleagues, he moved department and, his skill and confidence with the leg is such that only his superior officers know that he is an amputee.
“I am under cover.” He says with a sly grin. “And, even those that know that I’m an amputee see me riding my motorbike and don’t believe it.”
“You must have faith in yourself.” Alieo concludes. “Don’t feel discouraged and always have confidence and face the challenge.”
He is now working as second in command for his department dealing directly with criminals and and managing his team. His return to work has allowed him to realise his dream of building a home for his family. Alongside hired labourers he mixes cement, carries blocks and does what he can, though he does also know that he has limitations and that building a house is much harder with a prosthetic leg.
If that wasn’t enough, he is also an active member of the Gambian Amputee Association, a group set up by Legs4Africa and run by Gambian amputees for the betterment of their community. His gratitude is overwhelming for the work that Legs4Africa does:
“Having a prosthetic leg is another life for us. God bless Legs4Africa. It has changed my life.”
Legs4Africa can only do so much. We can provide mobility equipment to the people of Africa but it is the people themselves that are the ones that make it work. Their fierce tenacity, their willingness to push that bit further, means that, for us, it is all worth while. To see people succeed, not despite their misfortune and where they grew up, but because of it is incredibly moving. All people like Alieo, all people who just need the opportunity, all people that your support can help…