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Standing on your own two feet: easier said than done


Longini is nine years old, lives in Rwanda and has two brand-new prostheses. His new pair of lower legs were finally ready at the beginning of November 2021. Longini had to wait a year and a half to receive them, and COVID-19 is largely responsible ...

Longini peut à nouveau marcher grâce à ses prothèses, mais le chemin a été long pour y arriver.

Longini peut à nouveau marcher grâce à ses prothèses, mais le chemin a été long pour y arriver. | © S. Wohlfahrt / HI

When the virus appeared in Rwanda in the early spring of 2020, all the schools closed. And as bad news never comes alone, the orthopedic center where Longini was to receive her new custom-made prostheses was located in her school ...

In just nine years, Longini has already been through a lot. He never knew his father, who died when Longini was still in his mother's womb. After Longini was born, doctors diagnosed him with malformations of both legs. As a result, Longini didn't learn to walk like other children. On the contrary, at the age of three, he underwent a double amputation that would enable him to wear prostheses later in life.

Dreams come true

Three years later, Longini's mother Elisabeth found him a place at the inclusive HVP Gatagara school, some 70 kilometers south of Kigali, Rwanda's capital. Longini can go to school: a dream come true. He attends classes in a boarding school.

The school also houses a rehabilitation center and an orthopedic workshop. Humanity & Inclusion supports the center and also provides financial aid to poor families who cannot afford to pay for the treatment. At the time, Elisabeth alone could not afford two new prostheses for her son. But thanks to the help of Humanity & Inclusion, this dream also became a reality. For the first time ever, Longini can walk on his own, with the help of two custom-made prostheses. The year is 2019, and Longini is 7 years old.

Back to square one

Life isn't all rosy for Longini and his mother, but at least he can now go to school and do the same mischief as his friends.

Then the COVID-19 epidemic arrives in Rwanda. The government closes all the schools, and an entire school year goes up in smoke. The school's rehabilitation center isn't allowed to stay open either, just as Longini outgrows his prostheses.

In the blink of an eye, the virus wiped out the joint efforts of Longini, his mother, the school and Humanity & Inclusion.

Fortunately, the year 2021 brought some light into this dark period. The schools reopened at the beginning of the year, and Longini was once again fitted with two new prostheses. But what does the future hold? For Longini, his two prostheses are the key to a life of dignity and fairness. Access to rehabilitation care will be essential for him throughout his life.

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Fatou Thiam


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