Legs4Africa may be thought of as a ‘small’ charity but in reality we are much bigger than it would seem from the tight team that run things from Bristol. We’re so lucky to have come into contact with some wonderful people who share our vision of helping as many people with limb difference in sub-Saharan Africa to get back on their feet. They’re all deserving of a shout out.
For instance, there are the donors who fund us and enable us to fulfil our goal of collecting and shipping legs across the world and, in the last few years, to allow us to build relationships with our partners in Africa in instigating community-led support groups as well as providing bursaries for young women to train to become prosthetists and so extend a much needed service.
Then there are the leg donors from around the world, whether they’re individuals with one or two prosthetics going spare or the clinics who take the time and trouble to keep unwanted legs until they have a good number of them to send to us. Without them we would not be able to send as many components as we do.
In several countries around the world we have partners who have undertaken to be the collection point in their country for leg donations. They take them in, dismantle them and send the reusable components to our partners in Africa. Without them many legs across the world would end up in landfill with the consequent ability to service the need for them much diminished.
And we mustn’t forget the guys from Mens Shed who dismantle a lot of the legs we receive here in the UK so that we are able to send the components in sets that can be easily managed when they reach their destination.
Which brings us finally to the recipients of all this generosity. At Legs4Africa we are always totally knocked out by the resilience and fortitude of the people with limb difference that this hard work is able to help. Not all of them have lost a limb through illness or accident – some are born with a congenital condition which makes walking difficult if not impossible. But whatever the reason for needing a prosthetic, the impact on their life is all consuming and affects their ability to attend school or work and support their family or simply just to socialise and be accepted by their community.
The stories we receive of people who have faced hardship through limb difference are invariably supported by photographs of strong personalities for whom the access to a prosthetic has been life changing. Whether it’s a small child who is now able to play with their friends, a teenager who can now go to school and follow their dreams of their future or a parent or grandparent who is now able to support their families by working or contribute to the family by looking after their grandchildren. All made possible by the input of some pretty wonderful people who support Legs4Africa in one way or another.