My name is Navin Raut, I am 41 years old and live with my family in the North East of Kathmandu, Nepal. I joined HI in December 2022 and am currently working as HI’s P&O technical specialist. The prosthetist/orthotist is an essential member of the multidisciplinary team in charge of the rehabilitation of people who are injured or sick. They assess people who need prostheses or orthoses and play a crucial role in prescribing, producing and fitting their device.
I grew up in a small village in the Kathmandu valley. There were no roads, no electricity and no access to education. When I was very young, I wanted to do something for my country, to be involved. With my parents' support, I was able to study in Kathmandu before joining the Nepalese army.
Trapped on a mined road
To be honest, before I got my first prosthesis I had never heard of the profession of prosthetist/orthotist. Initially, I was an infantry officer in the army. I was wounded on Saturday, June 25, 2005, when I was 23 years old. At the time, I was in charge of securing a new access road for my battalion. But the road was riddled with improvised explosive devices. My troops and I found ourselves trapped.
When I stepped on the explosive device, I blacked out for about 30 seconds and woke up to find myself lying on the road with a burning sensation in my right leg. I could see that my toes were fine, but I had no idea that the whole back of my right leg had gone.
I was taken by helicopter to the military hospital in Kathmandu four hours after the explosion. I still remember endlessly repeating my blood group to the medical staff at the hospital: "O negative, O negative." My right leg was amputated below the knee that same evening. I was in a coma for a week and spent a total of 45 days in hospital. Then I came back to life; I started my second life.
'I came back to life'
Several months later, I received my first artificial leg, which was really basic and impractical. So I wanted to become a P&O to try to improve things, which was no easy task! In Nepal, our P&O services are basic and not accessible to everyone.
I joined HI on Dec. 16, 2022. My main objective was to have a job that would enable me to fulfill my dream of supporting Nepal's P&O sector. Also, I knew I would gain valuable work experience with HI, an organization that promotes inclusion and encourages people with disabilities like me.
I think it is a “plus” in this job to be an amputee. It helps with understanding the people we serve. I know their difficulties and understand the challenges in their daily lives. I tell them about my own experience when, like them, I used my prosthesis for the first time. Encouraging them and giving them advice really helps them to move forward and make a fresh start. It's essential to show them empathy, rather than just sympathy.
Every day I measure the importance of our actions. So far in my career, what has had the greatest impact on me are the many children affected by the mega-earthquake in 2015. So today, if I had a message to give to other young people who have had to be amputated and whom we support at HI, this is what I would say to them:
Amputation is not the end of life; it’s a new beginning. It brings us a new way of thinking and a new way of advancing. It doesn’t just create challenges, but also new opportunities. So, we must always be positive and keep moving forward!