Creating A Badly Needed New Service
My personal experience of birthing and raising a daughter with a missing tibia and knee cap inspired the set-up of The IREDE Foundation. I wanted to share the comfort I had with other parents and the abilities in disabilities. In addition there was a desire to pour out my heart by writing out my daily frustrations and concerns as I managed my daughter. The need to reach out with a message of hope to child amputees and their families continually spurs me to action. We at The IREDE Foundation are out to educate and create awareness on amputation and limb loss among the general public, hoping to reduce stigmatisation to the barest minimum. We also run a support group to reach out to the families and the amputees themselves. Thirdly we empower amputees via the provision of prostheses and mentoring.
How It All Began
In 2009, I gave birth to an angel. As she had a missing tibia and knee cap, we were told we needed to amputate. It took us two years and three months to make up our minds. Finally we took the bold step and went ahead with amputating the limb. Before this experience, I knew of no parent in Nigeria that shared the story of amputating a limb of their child. In fact, the stigmatisation of people with a disability in Nigeria is high.
It is believed that you are probably cursed and that is why God will allow you to have a child with a disability. The birth of this precious angel made me research daily on how to ensure a better life for her. During this research I came across the stories of other amputees in Nigeria. And I learned that they and their parents needed answers to the daily questions life throws at them.
Education, Encouragement And Empowerment
So I set up The IREDE Foundation. The foundation focuses on education, encouragement, and empowerment. Our education programs aim at the wider society so that we can reduce the societal stigmatisation of people with disabilities. We educate through schools, through social media and use every communication tool we have to reach the word out there. In addition we do an awareness walk tagged ,Out on a Limb‘ to get everyone involved. The walk takes place simultaneously in more than 25 locations across seven countries. So far we have reached over 10,000 people and served over 180 communities.
Over the last five years, we have provided 74 limbs to people with amputations. When we take on a child we ensure that she child is provided with a prosthesis till it reached 18 years of age. We are responsible for the rate of change of the prosthesis.
Because of our programs over 60 child amputees have been able to go back to school, something that might never have happened without our intervention.
One of our daily challenges is the work of traditional bone setters in our communities. When people are faced with limb-related issues they often consult with traditional bone setter. Usually this results in mis-managed fractures, often leading to an amputation. This is one of the reasons why we love to educate more Nigerians. We plan to take our awareness program to 1,000,000 people over the coming two years.
One of our constrains is limited funding, meaning that we cannot take on more child amputees that need prosthetic limbs. Hence we need more financial support or donation of prosthetic limbs. We hope to be able to set up a limb centre that will cater for the needs of amputees. That way we can provide more affordable prosthetic limbs and reach more child amputees.
Learn More About The IREDE Foundation
If you are interested to learn more about us, please visit:
Guest post by Crystal Chigbu. Crystal is the proud mother of a beautiful amputee. "I believe that amputees can live a self-sufficient life irrespective of the type of amputation they have. I know that disability is a mind game. Please meet some of our IREDE champions when visiting us or following us on social media."