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Thanks to his prosthesis, Atilio has regained his independence


In Colombia, HI is supporting Venezuelan migrants like Atilio who crossed the border with an amputated leg. HI has provided him with a prosthesis and rehabilitation services.

Atilio, a young man, standing with his prosthesis and arms crossed, outside his home in the informal settlement on a dirt road,

Atilio standing with his prosthesis outside his home in the informal settlement in Maicao, November 2021. | © J. M. Vargas / HI

Atilio Segundo Urdaneta, 39, arrived in Colombia five years ago with his wife and four children. They live in Maicao, a town near the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

Comprehensive support

While still living in Venezuela, Atilio had a serious motorbike accident, in which he broke his tibia and fibula. He tried to heal himself with medicinal plants, but eventually his leg became necrotic. Reluctantly, he had to resort to amputation.

HI began supporting Atilio seven months after his operation, while he was living in an informal settlement in Maicao. Wilmer Robles, an HI physiotherapist, helped him to care for and strengthen his stump. He then received rehabilitation sessions and a prosthesis.

"I never imagined that I would get my prosthesis so quickly. When I put it on for the first time, I was so moved I got goose bumps! Thanks to my prosthesis, I can walk and dream again," says Atilio.

HI supported Atilio with regular follow-ups, both at a health center and remotely. Wilmer sent him personalised videos by phone, so that he could continue his exercises at home. Atilio first used crutches and then gradually set them aside until he could walk on his own with his prosthesis. Throughout the process, he was accompanied by HI's psychosocial support teams to help him mentally overcome this ordeal.

Getting his life back

Atilio has now had a prosthesis for over two years. It has made him independent again. He can walk and has resumed his various activities.

"Before, people used to make fun of me, and I was always afraid of falling. Today, thanks to my prosthesis, I am very happy. I am completely independent; I walk without crutches and I can work again. Some people don't even know that I have a prosthesis," says Atilio.

Atilio and his wife in their dimly-lit home, an informal settlement with one window in Maicao, Colombia, sitting down surrounded by houseware and clothing. HI also provided him with financial assistance with which he set up a small shop selling groceries, such as sodas, ice cream and sweets. His wife weaves bags, which she sells to supplement their income.

"With HI's support, I was able to get my life back. We have been in Maicao for five years now. We have bought a piece of land and the children go to school in the town. Our life is here now."

This project of integrated protection assistance for Venezuelan migrants in South America and vulnerable population living in Venezuela and Colombia is supported by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Date published: 01/05/23


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