Prabin, 6, was born without the lower part of his right leg. Humanity & Inclusion’s team first met him five years ago when his family was referred to a rehabilitation center in Biratnagar, Nepal. Since then, he’s advanced by leaps and bounds.
It wasn’t until Prabin’s mother, Sunita, was well enough to return home from the hospital that she realized something was wrong. Her baby boy had been born missing the lower part of his right leg.
“I felt very disappointed and asked my husband why he didn’t tell me before,” Sunita explains. “He said that the doctor told him not to discuss this condition with me because I was so unwell that it could make me more nervous and that would be dangerous.”
The first years of Prabin’s life were difficult for Sunita and the family. They loved their little boy but the community wasn’t very accepting of children with disabilities.
“Because of his disability, I couldn’t stop worrying about his future,” Sunita adds. “It seemed like nobody could help us. But then a social worker told us about the rehabilitation service at Biratnagar supported by HI, and then everything changed.”
Small patient, big challenges
The family first visited HI’s local partner, Community Based Rehabilitation Center, in Biratnagar when Prabin was just 18 months old. At first, Sunita and her husband had their doubts. Ambika Sharma, an expert in artificial limbs and braces for HI’s partner organization, guided them through the process.
“I had no idea that these types of services existed,” Sunita says. “My husband and I really doubted that my son would be able to walk, but Ambika explained how the device would work and how it could help him. We were convinced.”
Ambika recalls meeting the family for the first time.
“He was the youngest child we ever supported at the center,” she explains. “It was my first time making a leg for a 1-year-old child and our first attempt was not successful at all. The measurement was slightly inaccurate and we could not attach it to his leg. But we persevered and on the second attempt it was perfect.”
After that, it wasn’t long before Prabin was up and about on his new leg. When Sunita brought Prabin back to the center, he had already made amazing progress.
“It was a wonderful change in our little boy,” Sunita says. “He accepted his leg right away and just began playing, running, and even jumping like any other child of his age.”
He loves to play
To Sunita’s delight, after he was fitted with his artificial limb, Prabin was accepted into their local school.
His parents had to leave very early each morning for work, so the young boy learned to get himself ready, lock up the house, and walk to the bus stop all by himself. On top of that, he also had daily exercises to do and he had to clean and take care of his prosthesis.
The first few months weren’t easy and he was really shy around other children and his teacher. But it wasn’t long before his personality started to shine through.
You wouldn’t believe Prabin was ever shy when you see him today – he is full of energy and the life and soul of the classroom.
He’s also the fastest runner and the highest jumper at playtime. Most of all, though, he loves to play soccer.
“When he sees a soccer ball, he can't keep calm,” says Benita, his teacher.
But school isn’t just fun and games for Prabin.
“He’s an intelligent and obedient student,” Binita adds.
‘They will outgrow their prosthesis’
Recently Prabin returned to the center to see Ambika and receive a brand new artificial limb, his fourth device over the last five years. His old one was adjusted several times but is now too small.
“Growth is an important aspect when working with children,” Ambika explains. “As their bodies change, their prosthesis has to be adapted or changed to accommodate them. Just as they outgrow shirts, pants, and shoes, they will outgrow their prosthesis.”
Prabin can’t wait to try out his new leg, but it’s slightly too big when Ambika first puts it on. She adjusts it until it’s perfect.