The power of paper

COVID & Clubfoot – Stories from the Frontlines

The appointment card is a nice thing to have. Families can post it somewhere so they don’t forget their next appointment. But it is just a piece of paper, after all. But for one Kenyan family, they never realized its awesome power.

Alvin is a little boy who goes to the Kijabe clubfoot clinic for treatment. His family lives in Kitengela about 50 miles from the clinic. Getting to the clinic has always been a challenge, but once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the Kenyan government put a travel ban into place, Alvin’s family did not know what it would mean for their son’s treatment. Public transportation was shut down meaning that Alvin’s family would have to raise additional funds to be able to afford a private taxi.

The weeks following the appointment date were unbearable for Alvin’s family. They worried and didn’t know what to do as they saw Alvin’s feet outgrow the brace. The parents prayed to God to make it possible for them to get a new brace for their child. 

They worked with the clinic to see if they could temporarily attend a clubfoot clinic that was closer and within a zone where they were allowed to travel. All was set for Alvin to visit the Mama Lucy Clubfoot Clinic, but two days before the appointment, they got more bad news. Alvin’s father had sent a photo of Alvin and his brace to the clinic. Unfortunately, Alvin was using a Cunningham Brace undergoing clinical trials at Kijabe. The clinicians at Kijabe had to see him. 

Alvin’s parents decided to risk it and cross the police roadblocks to get to Alvin’s appointment in Kijabe. They had one hope – a simple appointment card given to them at Alvin’s last appointment. 

“We were so terrified when the police at the roadblocks stopped us, but when they saw the hospital card, they told us, ‘go, go, go!’” Alvin’s dad said. “It is more important than we ever thought.” 

Alvin made it to his appointment. His feet are now maintaining their correction thanks to a new larger brace that fits him perfectly. The family also now has peace of mind thanks to a simple piece of paper.

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