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Mardoché, a model of resilience

Central African Republic

Mardoché’s leg was torn off by a bullet when he was just a baby. Today, thanks to HI, he feels confident and is looking forward to a bright future.

A boy is standing in front of the Bambari regional hospital, showing off his prosthesis.

February 2024, Bambari. Mardoché, aged 8, standing in front of the HI rehabilitation room at Bambari regional hospital, showing off his prosthesis. | © E. Beyarandia / HI

Mardoché is 8 years old. He lives with his parents and five brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic. When he was a baby, Mardoché was hit by a bullet as he fled a rebel attack with his family; the impact severed his leg. Today, he’s doing very well. HI's teams have provided him with a prosthesis and he can now play hide-and-seek with the other children and is looking forward to the future.

An unthinkable event in the first months of his life

Mardoché, who was only a year old at the time, can’t remember much about the day that changed his life. The memories he created as he grew up are based on the stories his family tells about the violent events that took place in Bambari in 2017. In those days, political and military crises were a day-to-day reality in the Central African Republic. That Sunday, Mardoché was with his grandfather when armed groups attacked the town. At the sound of gunfire, everyone panicked. His grandfather grabbed hold of Mardoché to try to get him to safety. His parents also ran, but lost sight of him. As they fled, Mardoché and his grandfather ran into a group of rebels who fired at them. His grandfather died instantly and Mardoché was hit in the right leg. The bullet tore it clean off.

"I was very young, so I don't have many memories of that day. But I remember the pain very well, that's all I felt. A lot of people thought I wouldn't survive. My parents almost lost hope. They thought I was going to die because they’d been told I'd lost a lot of blood. Nobody believed I would live," Mardoché tells us.

But he was gathered up by members of his community and rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. His parents were contacted and reunited with their little boy.

Meeting HI: a first step towards autonomy

Mardoché’s injury left him with a permanent disability. Without his right leg, he became isolated, unable to play with the other children or attend school regularly. One day, he hurt his amputated leg and his father took him to the hospital. Luckily, the surgical team referred him to HI for rehabilitation treatment. The meeting went very well. Mardoché says that, during the sessions to prepare him for his prosthesis, he and the HI team members would play together like friends.

"I still remember the exercises I did to learn to stand again. I also remember the HI team visiting my home for follow-up. And on the trip to fit my prosthesis, I got to see the capital, and ate some good food! I felt loved and valued," confides Mardoché.

Today, the little boy feels good and is independent. He tells us that before, he had no balance, but now he can walk long distances without falling over: "I'm back at school because I can get there on my own!" His father, Abraham, describes what has changed for their family and for his son:

"Before, my son was on the ground all the time, and when I saw him I used to cry. I felt desperate. Now that he's been fitted with a prosthesis, I feel happy and relieved because my son can stand on his own two feet." 

Confident and ambitious about his future

Since Mardoché received his prosthesis, everything has been going well for him. At home, his parents, brothers, and sisters are happy with the change, and at school, where his favorite subject is spelling, all his friends want a look at his new leg.

"I'm very grateful to HI for their help. It's the first time a pupil has had a prosthesis, and that makes me a star at our school”, he tells us, happily.

Mardoché knows that this prosthesis is the beginning of a new life. He is positive and resilient, firmly believing that he will lead a good life – and he already has plans! Later on, he wants to continue his studies to become a great tailor and farmer like his father, who can see significant improvements in his son:

"Now he loves doing little jobs around the house, and he's taken himself back to school! He's become very enthusiastic! Parents shouldn't be discouraged by their children's disability. They should be as proud of them just as they are of their other children because they have the same chances of success as everyone else. We mustn't despair, we must be optimistic. I'm going to support Mardoché's studies, find him a small business, and make sure he gets some training. I will do everything I can to help him become independent in the future.”

The RIMSCASSA project, which combines integrated physical and functional rehabilitation and stimulation therapy with mental health and psychosocial support activities at the Bambari hospital, was launched in July 2022 in 6 countries: Mali, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Chad and Somaliland. It was funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Between July 2022 and March 2024, the RIMSCASSA project case-managed 6,054 patients in need of rehabilitation care (including 1,685 in CAR), 1,818 children in need of stimulation therapy (including 885 in CAR), and 28,669 people experiencing psychological distress (including 2,145 in CAR).


Date published: 05/24/24


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