Our days have been full and varied. We have just returned from a 2 day trip to Deodurg, 4 hours drive away, to where I originally volunteered in 1994. We stopped and visited several clients, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. It was heart-warming to see their life successes.
Siddappa, who was one of Samuha’s first clients as a young boy, received many inputs from Samuha. At eight years old, he could only pull himself on his belly round the village since his legs and trunk were paralysed from polio. Samuha arranged corrective surgery for him and provided him with callipers and crutches so he could propel himself to school, after much practice. He then went on to work in the orthotic workshop before leaving Samuha and setting up a bicycle repair shop in his village. On this visit, we found him sitting near the road outside his tyre repair shop where he fixes tyres from tractors to bicycles. He then took me for a spin down the road on his 3 wheeled motor-bike. Without Samuha’s interventions, he would be begging on the streets but now he is leading an independent life with enough income to support himself.
We met several other clients from these early days, one is a tailor, named Laxshman, who has his own shop and makes men’s shirts and pants in the village. Another very pretty girl, Barthi, is a pre-school teacher and has 26 children under here care. She is also involved in village development work and is married with 2 young children. She wears a calliper but doesn’t need crutches anymore.
Another man, Krishna, with paralysis of both legs from polio is running his own shop and mobilises with a low hand-propelled scooter or with a 3-wheel motor-bike for longer distances. He is a weight-lifter and has a gym set up in his house. He hopes to be able to compete in the next Paralympics and is training for this. He is also married with 2 young children.
Another young boy, Darkoji, from one of the tribal villages, could only move by pulling each foot forwards with his hands when I first met him. With Samuha’s help he underwent corrective surgery and was fitted with bilateral callipers and crutches. He gradually reduced to one calliper and one crutch and now walks with one calliper and no crutches and rides a regular motor-bike. He is a village rehabilitation worker in 38 villages and is responsible for 61 children with disability. He also has seven sheep, which supplements his income.
You couldn’t call any of these people disabled as they are all so independent but each of them has paralysis of at least one leg from polio. It is uplifting to see their successes and how they are in turn contributing to others well-being in their villages.