Little Nyasebit, seems to be uncomfortable with her new, artificial leg.She is only 8 years old and undoubtedly different that the other girls of her age as she was shot by unknown men few months ago in her own house and later amputated. Despite this tragic event, she is one of the lucky ones as she is again able to stand on her two feet again with the help of the prosthesis made in the Physical Rehabilitation and Reference Centre in Juba, South Sudan. “She doesn’t like her artificial leg, it’s normal, she’s a child. When she’ll be older she will understand how important it is for her life.” Oketta Robert Kanyara, one of the physiotherapists, says.
“I got bitten by a snake. By the time I went to the hospital the infection was that severe that the doctors had to amputate twice my leg” Bol Nyang is a 29 year old South Sudanese man who had his leg amputated in 2012 tells. It took another 6 years until he got his first prosthesis. Now he’s staying in the rehabilitation centre in Juba which is run by the South Sudanese government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the biggest centre for prosthetic orthotic treatment in the country. Patients there receive hand-crafted, custom fit artificial limbs and orthotic devices made within the centre. The whole procedure takes a few weeks and includes physiotherapy and further training on walking with the new limbs. “The prostheses can be made within a day and the patients need anywhere between 2-3 weeks to start walking depending on the nature of the trauma.” Oketta Robert Kanyara says. However, due to very limited infrastructure getting to Juba is too expensive and difficult for most amputees. For the past 10 years, the ICRC has been facilitating the access of patients to the service by providing air transportation from different parts of the country to Juba, Wau or Rumbek, where ICRC runs physical rehabilitation services. For patients coming from other cities to get their treatment, accommodation and food is provided within the centre. Nyasebit is just one of the thousands victims who survived an attack of past and current conflict in South Sudan. It’s been only 7 years since South Sudan became independent from Sudan and the world’s youngest country is still struggling to stand on its own feet. The ongoing civil war which followed independence stills devastates the country. The effects of that war will never fade for South Sudan’s amputees, most of whom lost limbs as a result of the conflict, but some light is appearing at end of the tunnel.One of the brightest examples is Charity Araba who lost both of her legs twenty years ago after a landmine explosion used during the war between Sudan and South Sudan. “When I stepped on the landmine I felt it was something wrong. I asked for help and the rest came over to help me. Once they lifted me the landmine exploded. All 8 of them died during the explosion. I am the only one who survived and I was even three months pregnant.” She recalls vividly. After the amputation, she still managed to birth to her child but she couldn’t recover from her psychological trauma caused by this brutal event. “At the beginning I was depressed. I lost my legs and my husband was killed in the war. After the amputation I lost all my hope, so did my family.” she continues. Similar is the story of Madalena Abuya, a 51 year old woman who was shot when she was a child. “During the war [before independence from Sudan] soldiers entered my house and started shooting. I don’t remember how old I was back then but I was very young. I was shot and then amputated. My parents were also killed during the war so I grew up with my siblings. My husband has also died in recent conflicts in Juba in 2016. Now I have 5 children who I take care of myself.” she recalls. Madalena received her first artificial leg 17 years ago.