Valerie in Burundi

Claudine and Dismas have always struggled to make ends meet in Burundi. On their farm, they grow beans, maize, bananas and sorghum, which helps them financially when the harvest is good. After her second pregnancy, Claudine became very ill, and much of the extras they had went to pay for traditional healers and medical doctors searching for answers to her sickness.

The birth of their second child, Valerie, with clubfoot added to the family’s tight financial situation. The condition was not even identified until about a month after Valerie was born when her grandmother was changing her. The grandmother recognized clubfoot because Claudine’s stepsister also had children born with the disability.

Others discouraged Claudine and Dismas from finding treatment. They said Valerie’s feet resulted from the strange illness Claudine suffered during her pregnancy. Even if treatment was possible, neighbors reasoned the family would never be able to afford it.

Claudine and Dismas decided to put all their limited financial resources toward clubfoot treatment. Still, saving enough money for transportation to the first clinic visit took them a while. On average, it takes the couple five months to earn $70.

At the clinic, Hope Walks staff gave them the good news that treatment would be free for them. Today, Valerie’s feet are straight, and her future is bright.

“I am thankful because my child was treated,” Claudine said. “If the treatment were not available, my child could not have been able to walk. If I see a parent with a child born with clubfoot, I will encourage them by sharing my experience.”

Valerie was born with unilateral clubfoot. Here she is in one of her weekly casts.

Valerie in the bracing stage after her feet were corrected.