Providing Emotional and Physical Rehabilitation
The WHO estimate that 80% of the 600 million people living with disabilities globally are living in developing countries. Within this, it’s further estimated that 0.5% of a country’s population are amputees; so across Africa there could be as many as 6.5 million amputees.
Setting up Support Groups in Africa
To tackle the marginalisation, trauma and disempowerment that amputees face, we feel that the facilitation of a peer led amputee support will be an opportunity for amputees to develop self-confidence through shared experience which will enable them to deal with the many challenges they face in an empowered and determined way.
In 2016 Legs4Africa set up an amputee support group in The Gambia having realized that there was not any emotional rehabilitation for amputees available throughout the country. The response to setting up the group exceeded expectations as members meet monthly with new friends, to provide each other with peer support, receive motivational talks and referral guidance for work, domestic issues, mental health and even sport. Feedback has emphasised to us the benefits that support groups can bring in acting as platforms for capacity building pathways as well as being a base from which the collective strength of amputees can be recognised, and that this collective strength can be channelled to promote positive changes for amputees within wider society.
The Gambian Amputee Association was formed with the help from Legs4Africa in 2016 and we haven’t looked back. I was privileged to be selected as the President of the committee and this has made me extremely proud, and I’ve become even more sensitive and diligent about how I can personally support fellow amputees. Musa Kandeh - The G.A.A President
What’s next with support groups?
With everything that we’ve learnt so far we’ll be setting up a support group in Ghana, and by empowering a few people in the community and providing them with guidance and the resources to lead social and effective meetings, we expect the support groups to provide a much needed facility for amputees to come together to help each other.
Our vision is to see member led amputee support groups springing up all over Africa through a network we’re already accustomed with. Coupled with a resource toolkit and ongoing support for community facilitators, we envisage taking emotional rehabilitation for amputees living in Africa to the next next level.
Recycling Prosthetic Leg Components
Legs4Africa provides independent living to people who have suffered limb-loss in Africa with the help of amputees in the UK. We recycle prosthetic limb to be repurposed by mobility centres in Africa and provide resources for amputee rehabilitation.
Prosthetic legs that are donated to Legs4Africa are dismantled in their components by volunteers and distributed to partnering hospitals in Africa where they are reassembled to build new prosthetic legs for amputees who would otherwise go without.
Legs4Africa and Men’s Shed have partnered up to make sure that prosthetic legs are fully dismantled into the individual components which are then serviced and cleaned before being sent to a partnering hospital in Africa. The retired gentlemen at the Men’s shed in Warmley, Bristol UK, meet every Thursday with their allen keys, gossip, mugs of tea and get to work.
The Men’s Shed network is international and making a huge difference to men’s wellbeing all over the world. If you’re running a Men’s Shed outside of the UK and would like to join with us please get in touch here.
Warmley “Men in Sheds” started in April 2016 and is based in the Kingswood Heritage Museum ,Bristol. We use the same workshop as the Bristol Group of the charity Tools for Self Reliance who refurbish tools and sewing machines so that Africans can earn their own living. Some of our members belong to each group.
So when Legs4Africa asked if we could dismantle legs to go to Africa, we were immediately sympathetic to what Legs4Africa were doing.
Although Members come to the Shed to do their own projects , in practice most of the Members help out when they have completed their project and 2 or 3 dismantle legs as their main project. It has also really helped one or two
who came to us in a depressed state. One person who donated his own leg has now joined the team.
In the first 6 months of working together we have dismantled about 300 legs – we think Leg4Africa is having a job to keep up with us !!!Mervyn Bishop