Patience is a virtue
Early June found the expanding Legs4Africa team racing rain clouds as they loaded 500 prosthetic legs to be shipped to a Tanzanian hospital. The 5,000 mile journey was expected to take about a month but, as with many schedules, it was to be left in the hands of the gods and customs which would decide the donation’s final arrival time.
Delays are nothing new for the Legs4Africa team. It has become part of the day to day running of the charity. In an age of Amazon and 2 hour delivery, it is easy to forget that other parts of the world don’t have such easy flow of trade. The free market has given us a biased view of how things ‘should’ work and we forget that, in other parts of the world, things will and do go wrong. Case in point, I ordered something from Amazon, that great online bizarre of wonders, expecting prompt delivery. Now, I can cope without my blood red replica of the jacket that Michael Jackson wore in the ground breaking music video, thriller… But, to have the promise of mobility equipment which can change lives delayed?… It reduces my petty griping to utter insignificance.
It is very easy for me to forget that things are not ‘on demand’ in many African countries, which is daft considering that ‘on demand’ culture is only a recent advent in the western world. We work in a society where, if demand is high, it is met. This is certainly not the case in many other parts of the world.
The demand for prosthetic legs in Tanzania has grown considerably since the introduction of motorbikes, and the injuries they incur. It is thought that, due to this seemingly innocuous introduction of transport, there are fifty more amputations a year, that’s at least fifty prosthetic legs required, and that is in just one African country.
This simply highlights how important the work is that Legs4Africa is doing and how utterly, hair yanking, floor stampingly frustrating it is when a shipment with such potential impact is delayed… But, patience is a virtue and, in early September the shipment finally arrived.
Delays may happen, but delays can be overcome with time and hard work. Things don’t always go as planned, rarely do in fact, but it doesn’t mean one should ever stop striving to reach those goals, to ship 500 prosthetic legs to Africa, to take those few first steps with a prosthetic limb. So, maybe patience is a virtue and with some luck, some sleepless nights, some sweat, some blood and some tears, we can reach those goals and we can make a difference.
We would like to give a special thanks to everyone at Limbcare, The Mohamed Punjani Foundation and Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute in Tanzania for making all this happen.