The Brilliant Story
On December 26, 2017, an innocent ten-year-old girl and her father pass through the wide, open front door of the Jaipur Foot Camp. He is walking and she is crawling, because she only has one leg. Her name is Geeta, and she is wearing a flowy, white cotton dress and a letterman jacket, her hair tied back. With a hopeful smile on her face, she sits beside him and patiently waits to be fitted for a prosthetic.
In a matter of hours, Geeta is on her feet at last. Her wide smile shows off her missing two front teeth. As she practices walking around, her dress swirls around her new prosthetic. She is one out of the 1.7 million people that Jaipur Foot has provided prosthetics to, irrespective of caste, creed, or color and completely free of charge.
Later, while she is sitting quietly and swinging her legs, I ask her about her story. She’s quiet, but after I give her a cookie and talk to her a bit more, she begins opening up. She explains in a soft voice that she lost her leg when a tractor ran over her. Her story comes out in half-sentences, in the way that children that age speak. She confides to me that she doesn’t go to school because the other children treat her differently and make fun of her disability. Moreover, she cannot afford to go, as her family lives well below the poverty line and struggles even to put food on the table. We are both tearing up at this point, and I know I have to do something.
I raise funds to enroll Geeta in school. Now that she has a prosthetic, she is able to walk to school and play with the other children, who will get to know her better and hopefully expand their mindset. Already, her prosthetic is opening doors to education and participation in society.
I think about how quiet Geeta was. As a girl myself, I have had trouble getting my voice heard, and I can’t imagine how much harder it must be for girls who are also dealing with a disability and the discrimination that follows. How many girls are unable to go to school due to poverty, and disability? How many voices are not being heard because of bullying and discrimination?
Geeta’s story is just one story—there are so many out there that we don’t even know about. It doesn’t take much to make a huge difference. The Jaipur Foot is an incredible and technologically advanced prosthetic, yet it costs less than seventy US dollars. Geeta was unsure about sharing her struggles with me after having faced so much unkindness from others, but it only took one cookie to get her to open up.
When students found a chapter of Prosthetics for Change at their high school, they receive mentoring and assistance in organizing fundraising ventures and community outreach to encourage others to volunteer and get involved in social causes, creating a ripple effect across their community.