Precious time lost

COVID and Clubfoot: Stories from the front lines

When it comes to clubfoot treatment, early intervention is always best. Germain and Pierette learned this the hard way when their son Samuel was born with the disability in Benin. Not knowing why his feet were deformed and being ashamed, they decided to hide their son’s feet. They even thought the condition would eventually go away, but after a year, they realized his feet were getting worse.

Then a few months later, Germain was visiting a friend at Bethesda Hospital and ran into a mother who was getting clubfoot treatment for her child. The mother put Germain in contact with the parent advisor at the Hope Walks partner clinic and Samuel’s life took a new, more positive direction.

After going through the casting process, Samuel’s feet were straight and he was wearing a brace at night to maintain the correction. But after a few weeks, Germain and Pierette saw that Samuel’s feet looked fine so they decided not to put the brace back on their son. Within a few weeks, they noticed Samuel’s feet again starting to twist inward.

The COVID-19 pandemic added new challenges to this family. Benin shut down all public transportation and this poor family could not afford a private taxi. Samuel was growing out of his brace and they had no way to get a new one. Desperate to renew her son’s treatment, Pierette once walked for seven hours to get to the clinic. By the time she arrived, her feet were swollen and she barely got there before the clinic closed. The clinicians took up a collection to pay for Pierette and Samuel’s return trip.

‘’We lost a lot of time before coming to the clinic because of ignorance,” Pierette said. “If we could have started the treatment just after birth at least the baby would be on braces at night. Now, because of COVID-19, we are not even able to be at the clinic and get another brace.’’

Despite the setbacks created by both lack of knowledge and a global pandemic, Samuel will walk free from the burden of clubfoot someday soon. Things will turn around for this family from Benin.

Despite some setbacks, Samuel is showing great progress in his journey to be free of clubfoot.

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