Dedicated to championing people struggling with disability, GB Paralympian Stef Reid has had her prosthetic created in Nepal at The Leprosy Mission’s Anandaban Hospital to “walk in the shoes” of amputees living in Nepal.
Stef Reid – who lost her right foot in a boating accident aged 15 – is a celebrated long jump and sprint Paralympian. She is also committed to mentor people with disabilities, providing guidance and knowledge.
Recently, Stef has taken time out of her rigorous Tokyo 2020 training to spend time with leprosy patients The Leprosy Mission’s Anandaban Hospital and to promote the hard work the charity does.
In a bid to truly feel and experience how patients recover from limb loss at the Nepal hospital, Stef took off her state-of-the-art prosthetic foot to have a prosthetic created from the hospital’s workshop.
“A lot of the way they did the casting was really similar to what I experience in the UK, and this is bearing in mind I go to a very amazing private clinic,” explains Stef.
“You can always tell someone knows what they’re doing by the way they interact with your stump, your residual limb. You can see the guys at Anandaban Hospital have done the casting many times before.
“But in many ways, it was also really hard this morning and actually after seeing the things they make, I think I almost felt a little bit embarrassed about the leg that I have, in that my leg is so advanced and it does have the best technology.”
The Leprosy Mission’s Anandaban Hospital works to support people who have experienced limb loss from symptoms in leprosy. Also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), leprosy is a long-term infection caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae.
Affecting the skin leprosy is a chronic but curable infection.
Now, The Leprosy Mission is working to raise awareness of the disease, as well as being the leading referral centre for leprosy: the Anandaban Hospitalis an International Leprosy Training Centre training doctors and surgeons globally and a World-class research centre partnering with the best researchers in its field, including those at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Stef continues: “It’s amazing to see how great their casting is, they are doing everything right. It’s just that hurdle of prosthetic legs just cost so much and that’s hard to know.”
Meeting people who have been affected with leprosy, including Jyoti whose home was destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes, which killed 9,000 people in Nepal, and who was diagnosed with leprosy while pregnant with her second child, Mala.
“There is unfortunately a lot of stigma associated with the disease and one of the most upsetting things is that sometimes people view it as ‘you’ve got this disease because you have done something wrong, you have done something sinful’.
“I can’t even imagine having to deal with that reaction from neighbours; that somehow this is your fault and ‘you deserve this’ which is so untrue,” adds Stef.
“I have been so impressed by the response of The Leprosy Mission. It is not a case of ‘we’re going to give you some medication, we are going to offer you some support and some surgery if you need it and then send you on your way’ because that’s not the way to heal people. There’s is a full-on holistic approach.”
Heal Nepal will find, cure and heal people with leprosy in a bid to rid the country from this ancient disease. This means reaching people with leprosy through outreach teams before they develop permanent disabilities or caring for them for months at Anandaban Hospital while their wounds heal and they undergo life-changing surgery.
Make sure to visit Heal Nepal to learn more about the campaign and leprosy. All donations made to Heal Nepal before 27 April will be doubled by the UK government.
Find out more about how you can help promote leprosy education by visiting Heal Nepal and The Leprosy Mission