Transforming Lives

Transforming Lives

Dukhi and Lalita were found in their small rural village by Ganga Ram, one of HRDC’s 76 Community-Based Rehabilitation Workers.

Resilience and inner strength are part of the DNA of our patients and staff. Today we’re sharing a story of inspiration and triumph – a patient who eventually joined our staff and is now working to help other children, even during the pandemic. Dukhi and his sister Lalita were born with clubfeet into an impoverished family in southeast Nepal.  “People were calling us langada/langadi (cripple) and laughing at us,” recalled Dukhi. Ganga Ram, the Community Based Rehabilitation Worker who found them said, “I was visiting my working area in Siraha District and learned about them from a volunteer at a local youth club. They were suffering and isolated within their own community”. He encouraged their family to come to HRDC for treatment – without it neither child would be able to work or marry, creating life sentences of poverty and loneliness.

The disability and stigma of clubfeet made life a struggle for Dukhi

Both children’s feet were corrected using the non-surgical Ponseti method, which uses a series of casts to reposition the feet. Ideally, Ponseti clubfoot correction should begin within a week after birth, when the tendons and ligaments are at their most elastic. Because both children were relatively old, the treatment took many months. In the last 16 years HRDC has treated more than 5,000 children with clubfeet. With a success rate of 95%, the simplicity of this method is ideal for low-resource countries like Nepal. The cost? Only $395 per foot.

Miracles happen for children at HRDC

Once treatment was complete, the family returned home. Dukhi and Lalita could wear normal shoes, walk without pain, and dream of a hopeful future. With the help of HRDC, Dukhi opened a small bicycle repair shop and began making money. More good news came the following year. Ganga Ram told Dukhi of a job opening as a shoemaker at HRDC’s Club Foot Clinic in Lahan. He applied and was accepted! When Dukhi meets children with clubfeet he tells them not to worry – that it’s not a big deformity and is totally correctable. He knows what he’s talking about.

Dukhi’s first day – hard at work making shoes for clubfoot patients at the Lahan Clinic

As for the future, they are both thriving and have recently married. Lalita still can’t believe they were able to receive treatment because their parents are so poor, and she feels she feels the blessings, freedom, and opportunities of her new life. Dukhi is one of 28 HRDC staff who were former patients. He feels proud working for HRDC and very happy when he helps other children recover from clubfoot.

Brother and sister both happily married – starting new chapters in their lives!

Read more about HRDC’s groundbreaking research using the Ponseti method in Nepal.
Thanks to the generous support of Miracle Feet, HRDC treats an average of 500 children with clubfoot each year.