By Rose Onjefu
My friend, Rose Ominyi called me. She said there were some men and ladies from Jos who came with good news. They were providing artificial limbs for free for amputees and they needed to see us. I went to Living Faith Church, Welfare Quarters where we arranged to meet them. To my surprise, there were many other amputees already gathered and waiting. The free donors actually came. They explained that they had to pass through Mkar-Gboko to see some other amputees and from Benue, they were going to keep appointment with other amputees in Nasarawa State before going back to Jos. The head of the team was Ado Nicodamus Bagibawa, Senior Prosthetist of the Dynamic Orthotics and Prosthetics Nigeria Ltd, Jos. He told us that he was on a mission. His company was in partnership with Arise and Walk, a missionary philanthropic organization in America, an arm of the Reformed Baptist Church also in America. He told us the Arise and Walk has commissioned his organization here in Jos, to produce and give 240 artificial limbs and give to indigent amputees free of charge. It is for this reason they were in Makurdi. That was last year November. They took our measurements, some above knee and others below the knee, according to their amputation. My own measurement was also taken and we were told we would be informed when to come to Jos for the limbs.
We were however, informed that what the foreign mission, Arise and Walk, provided did not include accommodation, feeding and transport. Only the limbs. So we were to make our own arrangement for where we would sleep, feed and transport to the centre for further measurement, fittings and fabrication. It was therefore, not surprising when notice got to us to get ourselves to Jos on Sunday, April 18, 2021 for commencement of the fabrication for our new legs. On Monday 19, work began in earnest very early as we arrived the centre. Further measurements were taken, and within one week each of us had a brand new artificial limb to take home.
Story of the charity
We were told in Dynamics that work originally started at the site in 2013 when a foreign mission, Progressives, came to Nigeria to partner with some Nigerians to provide artificial limbs for amputees free of charge which attracted many amputees from across the country including North Central, Middle Belt, North East and a few southerners depending on awareness. Progressives however, reneged on the agreement they had with Dynamics to provide free limbs and work came temporarily to a halt in 2016, but not before they had trained some Nigerians for five years in orthotics and prosthetics. It is this trained new professionals that resurrected as Dynamics in 2017 and entered into new agreement with Arise and Walk and the Reformed Baptist Christian mission in America who took it upon themselves to provide artificial limbs for Nigerians free of charge. In 2020 for instance, they provided about eight artificial limbs per month but in 2021, the mission increased the number to 240, that is 20 per month for those who could not afford the cost. So far this year, as at this April when Benue amputees visited, they had produced about 71, leaving many more waiting for amputees to benefit.
On how they gather amputees for artificial limbs, Bagibawa said they had organised a workshop for amputees in Jos in 2016, where about 600 participants from different states participated. He said this was made possible by visiting the association of disabled person’s or disability commission in the states where amputees were identified. He appealed to governments of Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nararawa, Niger and the rest to send amputees in their states to the centre for provision of limbs free of charge, giving them money for transport, feeding and accommodation in Jos and where the foreign agency provision is overstretched pay outright for their indigent amputees. The cost for artificial limbs is N400,000 above knee and N250,000 below the knee.
During my training
Mr. Ado Nicodemus Bagibawa, who was himself trained on the job for five years to become a prosthetist is today a trainer. So far, three others have been professionally trained and three others are still training, making them seven in the fabrication room and about seven others working with them in other capacities, making them 14 running the affairs of Dynamics. Dynamics is still ready to train others who are willing to learn. They can train Prosthetics and orthotic for teaching hospitals, federal medical centres and other centres where artificial limbs are needed. The closest orthotic and Prosthetic centre here is Enugu which Benue has patronised over the years. Now, Jos can train with better materials and equipment as all products used for fabricating fists are 99 percent imported from an authentic source. So far none of the beneficiaries came back complaining about the product, rather they bring more beneficiaries.
The artificial limbs can swing, making users to move naturally as if they have two normal legs and can do what normal people do. That’s why beneficiaries are trained on how to walk with it right inside the Dynamics. They are made to play ball and other physical exercises so that when they go outside to their residences, they won’t begin to fall or pack it up.
The training is in two stages. Those who fabricate and learning to walk with artificial limbs. It is an exciting place to visit.This is the first time we are made to understand that orthotics and prosthetics can be done completely outside hospital environments, yet flourish. This side of Jos has today become not only a tourist attraction but succour to people who have resigned to fate and lost hope of living meaningful lives and contribute their own quota to the society.
Appeal to government, philanthropists.
So far, most of the amputees who have so far received free limbs from Dynamics said they found themselves in such situation due to road accidents, diabetes and insurgence victims in the North. Out of the over 21 amputees who showed interest and measured for free limbs, only seven went and actually received free limbs. Others complained they had no transport fare and accommodation to stay in Jos where they could be measured and legs fabricated for them. They appealed to politicians and Benue State government to come to their aid by providing logistics for them to benefit from this largesse.