A few years ago in the middle of Raza’s campaign to help the disabled when he was most focused on the Jaipur limb project, he helped a man from a bush village (actually about 10, 000 people in said village but very spread out with universal language) about 200 miles away from Bukoba. This man had been crawling for his entire life due to an early amputation necessitated by a snake bite. Needless to say his fellow villagers were extremely surprised to see him walking upright into the village upon his return. They had a huge celebration and everyone was in awe of his new leg. None of them had ever seen anything like it, let alone heard the word prosthetic. On Tuesday the same man came with a big group of disabled people from the same village, and an able bodied man who was put in charge by the head of the village. Both the man in charge and the first man to receive the limb could speak fluent Swahili and were herding the group of people around for days.
Besides carrying a letter from the head of the village explaining that the man in charge was responsible on behalf of this village elder and extending warm greetings and thanks, these people carried nothing with them. Not a bag or a bite to eat. It is not a rich village and they could not afford to pay for their dalah-dalah ride to Bukoba but they somehow arranged with the driver (or waited until they found a driver who was satisfied with the arrangement), that Raza would pay for their fare upon arrival because he had been known to help the disabled. Keep in mind Raza had not heard of their coming or plans at all.
Upon their arrival, the leader paid and was happy to see the man that he had helped walking proudly into his shop after so many years. One woman had elephantitis of the legs with huge feet and calves. Another woman had a severe club foot and was using crutches that were for a child- they were so small! In fact when she heard that she could have an operation to fix her club foot she actually requested that the foot be amputated so that she could have a nice new limb like her friend! Raza and I strongly discouraged that, and we tried to explain that you are better off fixing and keeping your own body parts. A third woman had a very short leg and crawled in crab-like walk because she never was given crutches. Her smaller leg is perfectly formed, just miniature. It ends at about the knee of her regular sized leg. One man was holding a 6 month old baby who had swelling of the brain so severely that she could not hold her own head up. The final woman was an amputee due to gangrene at her mid-calf. She used a stick diagonally across her body wrapped around her involved leg in a hop-sort of walk. The final person to come in was a woman holding a club foot baby. Once her husband realized that the baby was handicapped he left her and now she is living with an old woman in the village.
Raza is sending them all to Kagondo Hospital to see what his friends there say about their conditions. Their accommodations and food will be paid for while they are here, along with whatever surgeries they end up needing be it in Kampala or Nairobi for the more severe cases. The word has spread even to the far away villages that there is a man named Raza who runs a program called IZAAS, that will help the disabled who are in need.