Kabirou was one of the first patients that we met here at the hospital. I think we met him the second or third day we were in Niger, almost 9 months ago. He came to CURE because his foot was totally deformed. When he was 4 years old he injured his foot on a rock, and wasn’t able to walk on it normally, so he started walking on the outside of his foot. At first he did this because of the pain. But he did this for such a long time that eventually he couldn’t walk on the bottom of his foot, and his foot was permanently deformed.
He walked on the side of his foot for years. Now he is now 16 years old. His family heard about the CURE hospital, so his Mom brought him in. She was told that Kabirou could be treated, that his foot could be corrected through surgery. She was glad to hear that, but also worried about the cost. She was willing to pay what she could, but she is divorced, and sells fruit and vegetables on the side of the road, so she didn’t have much money. In the end she paid a little, but the hospital took on the bulk of the expense. Kabirou had the operation on his foot, and both he and his Mom were really happy.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The recovery took a long time, and then he spent a few months with a cast on his foot. He walked around on crutches for a long time. After the cast came off, he did months of physical therapy. It was painful and progress was slow. I would see him every week when he came in for his physical therapy and ask how he was doing. He always said, “Fine,” but you could tell he was starting to wonder, “Is this ever going to end?” 9 months is a long time. But just last week he came to the hospital and was really excited. He was walking on his own, without crutches! He went around and said hi to everyone at the hospital, the doctors, the nurses, everyone. He went and visited every office in the administrative wing. He wanted to make sure that everyone saw him walking on his own. The whole time he never stopped smiling. It was great.
It is hard to believe that Kabirou has been recovering from his operation, and dealing with this problem the whole time we have been here (not to mention the 12 years before his operation). Healing takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. But for Kabirou, it was definitely worth it. The change in his foot was so dramatic, and now he can walk on his own. He still limps a bit, but that will improve with time. Nothing like before. It is amazing to see the transformation in him, and to see the good attitude he has had throughout the process. Here are some before and after pictures: