For over 30 years the Rotary Club of Heswall in Merseyside has been involved in collecting prosthetic legs and supporting the work at the OTC (Orthopedic Training Centre) in Ghana where hundreds of amputees are fitted with a prosthetic leg each year. An hour’s drive north of Accra in the town of Nsawam, the OTC is run by Sister Elizabeth who is committed to alleviating the suffering of limb loss, particularly women, children and those that are most vulnerable.
Unlike many limb fitting centres the OTC has onsite accommodation for staff, students and patients which cultivates a nourishing therapeutic setting. Patients waiting to be fitted with a prosthetic leg or to receive physiotherapy as part of their aftercare sit patiently under an open pagoda nestled between a large tree and the main entrance. The well shaded space seems to have become a great place for people with similar challenges to connect, share ideas and play games.
Centres in Africa like the OTC have the expertise and tools to build new legs but often lack the raw materials and components, and this is where the unique relationship between Rotary Clubs and Mens Sheds like those in Heswall are making a huge impact on another continent. The prosthetic legs that the Rotary Club members have collected from hospitals and individuals are broken down into components by Mens Shed and then sent down to Legs4Africa in Bristol. After servicing there, the parts are shipped to vetted limb fitting centers like the OTC in Africa.
So far Legs4Africa, with the support of its partners, have recycled over 6,000 legs, all of which have gone on to build new legs or repair old ones in some of the poorest communities in Africa.