Activist gets amputees back on their feet

via Chegutu activist gets amputees back on their feet | SW Radio Africa. 19 June 2014 by Nomalanga Moyo


An ex-Chegutu council worker who lost his left leg in an earth digger accident 14 years ago is glad to be back on his feet following a gift from an American doctor.

Family man Leornard Kawara suffered career-ending injuries in 2000 when the earth-moving machine he was driving for Chegutu Town Council crushed his leg.

The severity of the injuries meant that Kawara’s left leg had to be amputated just above the knee.

“The accident also cost me my job as a driver as I could no longer make use of both of my legs,” Kawara told SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture Programme.

Kawara says although the National Social Security Authority paid his hospital bills, the whole process was so tortuous that he felt it was pointless to approach the authority with a request for an artificial leg.

For 14 years Kawara struggled with what had been simple tasks, let alone doing some gardening tasks for the subsistence of his family.

So when human rights activist Gift Konjana, who also lives in Chegutu, approached Kawara to discuss sourcing a prosthetic leg for him, the former driver could not believe his luck.

Kawara’s new leg was fitted this week by American physical therapist Dr Doug Brown, who has worked with many disadvantaged communities across Africa.

“The new leg means that I can now carry out light chores around the homestead and be able to walk around without the aid of crutches.

“Of course I may not be able to do heavy digging and things like that but right now my main aim is to get used to the leg and then see what I can and cannot do with it,” Kawara said Thursday.

Konjana says he is confident that the prosthetic leg will soon become second nature to Kawara, just as other beneficiaries have discovered.

“Since we started the programme three years ago, we have assisted five amputees with prosthetic legs and they all say the legs have changed their lives for the better,” Konjana said.

Beneficiaries so far include Mrs Muchokoto from Marondera, Mrs Mukosana from Norton, and Mr Sumani who now works at a supermarket in Ruwa and also runs a farm.

Chegutu resident Friday Antonio lost his leg when ZANU PF activists forced him and others onto a tractor to make sure they attended a ZANU PF rally. It was night and the tractor had no lights and was involved in an accident in which Antonia was badly injured. But he is now back at work driving with the help of an artificial leg.

Konjana, himself a victim of President Robert Mugabe’s sustained violence campaign, says the plight and neglect of victims of political violence pushed him to seek Dr Brown’s help.

“I got to know about Dr Brown following a documentary that I saw on South African television, and I decided to make contact three years ago.

“After that he visited Zimbabwe and as you can see, the rest is history. We have now opened up the project to include other individuals who need these legs, and not just victims of political violence.”

The artificial legs cost at least $7,000 and the American public funds the procurement of the prosthetics.