It’s been a strange old year, but while we battled the adjustments of the first lockdown, the second lockdown and the 126th lockdown, here at Team Legs we have soldiered on to find new and creative ways to get more amputees walking and working in sub-Saharan Africa than ever before.
We have therefore begun offering scholarships in prosthetic technology to enable women with limb-loss to increase their employability and build careers in the prosthetics industry, while challenging norms and stigma around gender and disability. We are delighted to partner with the Tanzania Training Centre for Orthopedic Technologists (TATCOT) on this project to provide fully funded places on their One Year Certificate Course in Lower-Limb Prosthetics, including tuition, flights, accommodation and living expenses, and we’ve made a delightful new video to tell you all about it:
So without further ado we’d like to introduce Molline, Ophia, Winnie and Judith: the first ever recipients of a Legs4Africa prosthetics scholarship! In November 2020, these four women from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya flew to Tanzania to begin their studies at TATCOT in Moshi.
TATCOT is a renowned centre of excellence in prosthetics and orthotics, recognised by the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO), and where many of our partners across sub-Saharan Africa received their qualifications and made their starts in the industry.
We sent a callout for candidates across our networks back in 2019, and were bowled away by the response and loved reading the applications and speaking to applicants from such a variety of backgrounds. In the end, Judith, Molline, Ophia and Winnie impressed us with their range of experiences and their passion for empowering people with disabilities.
My name is Judith Akinyi Ajwala, I am a 30 years old transfemoral amputee from Siaya County in Kenya. I suffered limb loss in 2005 secondary to Osteomyelitis due to delayed treatment after an accident. Being a female amputee, there is a lot of stigma associated with limb loss; I would like to help in advocating towards zero tolerance on disability stigma.
The scholarship opportunity came at a point when I thought more clients with limb loss needed my support in terms of access to prosthetic technology information and services back in my community. What excites me most is the fact that after this course in Lower Limb Prosthetics, more amputees within my network are going to access information and services on prosthetics.
I applied for this course to help people living with disabilities, especially the females that are stigmatised and have lost hope; those who wish to study in this area but can’t because they feel they can’t due to their disability. Being an amputee and having spent time in the prosthetics workshop, I feel there are some ladies who feel uncomfortable for men to fit them hence that discourages them to have their prosthesis made. So making a change and motivating the amputees out there is my first priority. I am passionate about problem solving in the sense that I will be helping someone to stand on both feet again. I know I will be someone’s strength; a motivator and a role model and that will bring change, especially to the ladies whose dreams were shattered because of a disability.
What I am enjoying so far is the new experiences: I am learning new things, such as different ways of making a prosthesis, for example if you don’t have materials like the foot you can still make one using wood.
I applied for the scholarship because I had a passion to help ladies in my situation. I used to be shy and uncomfortable whenever I was attended to by a male prosthetist as I had to be half naked when they took a cast and I knew most women in my country face this challenge.
I am passionate about learning more on how to make functional prosthetics so that amputees will be independent; especially women.
I am enjoying meeting new people especially my colleagues who are doing prosthetics and orthotics.
When I came to know about this scholarship, I did not hesitate to apply. My home country, Zimbabwe, is a developing country which has experienced war for a long period of time. Due to this, a large number of people have no limbs; they depend on artificial limbs, and I saw the need for me to enter that profession to help my fellow man. Also considering my background that I’m an orphan and I have a disability, I am sure this scholarship initiative can change the course of things in my family, my life and the disabled community as a whole.
My passion is to see problems of locomotion in prosthesis users being minimized. I want to give hope to my fellow disabled women that even if you have lost a limb, it’s not the end of everything, you can do something for your community.
So far what I enjoy most is learning a lot of new things concerning my disability and how to improve it for the better, as well as interacting with students from different countries and getting to know how things are done in their prospective countries. Also getting a new chance on another side of the continent is exciting.
Through running scholarship schemes like this one we can not only improve services for amputees, but we can challenge the stigma surrounding disability and gender in sub-Saharan Africa.
We are absolutely delighted to have our four passionate candidates on board and we look forward to updating you on their progress over the next 12 months or so.