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A young Black boy wearing an artificial leg walks down some steps while a woman in a lab coat watches him
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Putting two shoes on, at last!

Following a fire when he was little, Dieudonné's leg was amputated. After receiving a new artificial limb from Humanity & Inclusion, he is learning to walk again and is even starting to play soccer.

Dieudonné is 12 years old and lives with his grandmother, aunt and cousin in a small community in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Following a fire when he was only three months old, he had to have his right leg amputated. In 2022, Dieudonné was given an artificial limb by HI and is currently participating in physical therapy sessions at the University Clinics of Kinshasa. He can now stand without difficulty and is learning to walk without using his crutches.

Dieudonné is cared for by his grandmother, Rose, who sees him as her own son.

One day, when he was still a baby, oil spilled on the ground and the house caught fire. Dieudonné’s leg was caught in the flames, but Rose just managed to save him and took him straight to the hospital. The doctors had to make a quick decision to amputate, as the fire had already damaged a large part of his right leg, almost to the knee. During his stay in the hospital, the doctors treated the wound until it healed.

When one of HI’s mobile clinics came in contact with Dieudonné in 2020, the team found that he required surgery before he could be given the appropriate fittings. The HI team advised Rose to seek the support of a local elected official, known for their generosity and awareness of people with disabilities, to raise the funds needed for the operation.

In 2021, after having his operation and being hospitalized for more than a month, Dieudonné was able to return home and go back to school. He then had to wait for the wound to heal completely before he could receive his artificial leg. Delivery of the prosthesis was delayed by a major strike in the medical sector, but in 2022 HI was able to provide him with an artificial limb that allowed him to walk using both legs.

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With great emotion in her voice, Rose explains how happy she is to see her grandson walk as he did before.

“I was very annoyed, because all these years whenever I bought a pair of shoes, I could only give him one and had to throw the other one away,” Rose explains. “It was like throwing money down the drain! Now it’s over, he can finally put both shoes on.

“And if HI hadn’t intervened, we wouldn’t have had this prosthesis because they're very expensive and I don’t have the money to buy one.”

Before receiving his artificial limb, Dieudonné walked with a crutch which required a lot of effort. Thanks to his rehabilitation exercises with Euphrasie, his physical therapist, he is learning to walk and everything now seems easier.

Euphrasie works at the University Clinics in Kinshasa. Several years ago, the rehabilitation center there was supported by HI. She has been working there with Dieudonné for over four weeks and explains with a smile how well he is doing. She can feel the full force of the young boy’s desire to get up, move around and walk.

“Dieudonné is really making a tremendous effort to get better and it’s great to have the rehabilitation sessions with him,” Euphrasie says.” I also work with adults, and it’s complicated at times with some of them who don’t necessarily have the same motivation.”

Euphrasie does several exercises with Dieudonné: going up and down stairs, catching and throwing a ball, walking, and more so he will feel increasingly comfortable with his artificial leg. During these exercises, Euphrasie says to him, in a kind and knowing voice: “Don’t be scared to put all your weight on your prosthesis, Dieudonné, it’s quite solid. Have faith in it!”