|Prosthetics for Sierra Leone|
In a place where there are so many amputees they’ve formed their own soccer league, Sierra Leone’s citizens show the visible signs of a violent civil war. A clinic is working to change things for those who’ve lost limbs. And, as Barry Simmons reports, a very small church in the U.S. has become an important partner for the program.
(Locator: Bo, Sierra Leone)
In a small workshop on the west coast of Africa, Amara Lappia hammers and shapes homemade prosthetics.
Amara Lappia, Coordinator, Artificial Limb-Fitting Center: “When the patient is walking, this one, made out of aluminum, will not break.”
Amara runs the artificial limb-fitting center in Bo, Sierra Leone… a country with so many victims following a decade-long civil war, there’s now a national soccer league just for amputees.
Mustapha Koroma, Amputee: “They captured me. I refused to join them. So they decided to amputate my foot.”
Amara Lappia, Coordinator, Artificial Limb-Fitting Center: “When they have the leg, some of them will cry, tears will run in their eyes, because this is their first time using the leg.”
Amara opened the clinic in 2003 with funding from the United Methodist Church. But money quickly ran dry and the clinic almost closed, until a small church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, heard about the need.
Bishop George Bashore: “We bring our church in Sierra Leone, West Africa before you.”
Four years ago, Bishop George Bashore convinced his home congregation at Mount Lebanon United Methodist to support the clinic.
Bishop George Bashore: “This congregation then took on support, at that point $27,500.”
He discovered his was the only church contributing. But in all those years, no one here ever saw where the money was going … until recently, when the church received a video.
It was Amara and his patients demonstrating the prosthetics.
Sara Mercer, Member, Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church: “Brings tears to your eyes – gives me chills right now – to know that we in our good fortune can really contribute and make someone’s life better.”
The video prompted Mount Lebanon to send even more money. Not just to strangers anymore, but to friends.
Voice of church member: “It really gets to you. Because they could do so much more if they had more funds.”
In the four years since the church began supporting the clinic in Sierra Leone, the congregation has donated over 100,000 dollars.
For more information, contact George Bashore with Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church at 412-854-2389.
Donations to support the limb-fitting center can be made through the Landmine-Prosthesis Program, which is Advance No. 982580.
Also, see: Pittsburgh church helps amputees in Sierra Leone