Sri Lanka: A new leg for a 4-year-old victim of war

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In 2008, fighting between Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamils in the north of Sri Lanka reached its peak. No one in the tiny village of Pokkanai could escape the fighting, including nine-month-old Sathiyakumar, who was hit by shellfire. After having his leg amputated and spending six months in intensive care, his life was finally out of danger.

Peace returned, but Sathiyakumar’s broken family found it hard to get back on its feet. His mother and older sister were killed in the conflict. During the first few years of his life, Sathiyakumar received no care for his disability, as the family lived 40 miles away from the nearest town with health facilities.

In 2012, Handicap International’s mobile rehabilitation team began visiting the region in a specially-equipped truck, providing physical therapy and prostheses to people who lost limbs in the war and couldn’t who access care. Eventually the team arrived in Pokkanai and found Sathiyakumar.

They took the boy, then four, for a consultation with a physical therapist and an orthopedic technician. They measured him and had a prosthesis made for him, which they delivered a few weeks later. The prosthesis has completely transformed Sathiyakumar’s life. Now at age seven he’s going to school, just like his younger sister. He is growing so fast that Handicap International will revisit him soon to fit him with a larger prosthesis.