Tag Archives: ICRC

New Legs

South Sudan is home to many thousands of landmines and guns. As a result, there are many landmine and gunshot injuries. In Juba, the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre was set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and is run jointly with the Southern Sudan Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare to make prosthetic legs and train South Sudanese amputees how to use them. The centre is staffed mostly by South Sudanese who have undergone various types of training, along with four people from ICRC with significant experience in this kind of work.

My friend Sam and I were invited to visit the centre to learn more about the process involved in addressing an individual’s needs after he or she has lost a leg. The centre is very well-organised, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and the patients were quick to smile when they saw my camera, so I took a few photos as we walked around.

Suresh is a physiotherapist, so he spends a lot of time in the gait training room, where patients learn to walk with their prosthetic legs. While patients walk up and down the room, staff observe and take notes, and the prosthetics are adjusted and re-adjusted until they suit the patients.

Suresh shows us a selection of prosthetic legs at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

Once the artificial leg is correctly adjusted for a patient, the cosmetic part of the new leg can be fitted over the functional parts.

A technician grinds away at a plaster leg cast at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

Antero, a prosthetics specialist, shows Sam how PVC plastic is molded on plaster casts. A flat sheet of hard plastic is heated in a pizza oven (the industry standard) until soft, then wrapped around a plaster cast of part of a patient’s leg.

Antero shows Sam how the plastic is molded over plaster casts at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

After several hours, the plastic is hard again and ready to be removed from the cast. Edward uses scissors to cut away excess plastic:

Edward cuts away excess plastic after it has cooled at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

In the workshop, prosthetic legs are organised on the shelf:

Various prostheses on the shelf at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

During fitting, the patient tries out the leg, and adjustments are made by loosening bolts then adjusting the angles of the components (see the blue ink on the leg in the foreground below, where the angles can be changed).

Prosthetic legs in the gait training room at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

The functional part of an above-the-knee prosthetic leg includes a simple joint connected to a metal rod which then connects to a plastic foot. The knee seen below would need to be connected to a molded piece of plastic into which the leg stump fits.

Knee joint and load-bearing metal for an above-the-knee prosthetic leg at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

Some full length plaster casts:

Full leg plaster casts at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

A staff member works on a prosthetic leg in the workshop:

A technician works on a prosthetic leg in the workshop at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

Artificial feet come in standard sizes and connect to the prosthetic leg with a bolt. The bolt can be tightened or loosened using an allen key through a hole in the heel of the foot:

An artificial foot in the workshop at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

The patients in the gait training room were all more than happy to have a photo opportunity and chat with me at the end of our visit to the centre:

Five South Sudanese men with Suresh during their gait training at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan
Two South Sudanese men, proud of their increasing mobility at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan
A South Sudanese man, happy with his prosthetic leg at the Physical Rehabilitation Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan

Back to Switzerland

From March 23rd to April 2nd I was out of the country (Canada) on a trip to Switzerland with 11 other UBC students for the Harvard World Model United Nations conference in Geneva. While the conference itself was poorly run and couldn’t compare to the level of the UBC Model UN in January, the trip was still very much worthwhile and a terrific experience. As usual, I took a lot of photos.

Our private plane to Seattle:

Sara made friends with tiny children on every flight

Sara also thought she lost stuff a million times, and in this case actually DID leave her iPod behind on the plane when we landed in Copenhagen (she got it back)

Once we arrived in Geneva, time to take the train into town

I got a Rolex for $10 in Thailand… works fine.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency headquarters

International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, founded in Geneva

Just outside the Red Cross Museum, which of these things is not like the others?

Drew, Kat, and I chose to eat a cheap lunch by shopping for groceries and eating in our hotel room, and it was DELICIOUS! We’re good sandwich-makers.

We got a private visit with the International Organisation for Migration. This is the stylish waiting room.

Juan with the IOM flag. The IOM is not a UN Agency, but works with UN agencies and other humanitarian agencies. The visit was really educational and I’m seriously considering doing an internship with them during my Master’s degree, as I was really impressed by the staff members who put a lot of effort into their presentations for us.

Devon, Sara and Juan taking a break in my room.

We had a rather lacklustre visit to the dreary campus of Webster University, and the highlight of that excursion was this brochure. If you don’t understand why I think it’s funny, please ask and I will explain to you.

Sara, acting as Mom during the trip, tucks Cam into bed.

Juan and I visited a really neat museum of art and history, and this piece of armour is just his size!

The description for this one says that it is supposed to be bovine, so those horns aren’t demon-horns but cow horns, and those are little cow ears too.

The section of the museum with all the guns was really nifty. These are a couple of old school grenade launchers.

This is both a pistol AND a battle axe!

This Flemish painting from 1613 (I think) shows people clearly playing hockey. Crazy.

On our visit to the UNHCR, Juan got to try on their field staff safety gear, a bulletproof kevlar vest and helmet in UN colours. The vest weighs 11 kilos.