Sarah’s Story with Bowed Legs
“They use to laugh at me and now they have been silenced.” – Sarah
Sarah, who is now 16, arrived at CURE in 2009 in search of a miracle. “When my daughter was five years old, both her legs bowed, so I took her to a public hospital where they referred us to CURE,” said Monica, Sarah’s mom.
One year later, at CURE Malawi, Sarah received an operation to correct her legs. The causes of bowed legs vary, and at such a young age, there is always a possibility they might return. Unfortunately, by age eight, it was clear that Sarah’s legs were beginning to bow again.
Transportation to get to CURE Malawi is a challenge for many families due to the high cost, and the same was true for Monica and Sarah. “When we noticed that her leg was bending again,” Monica told us, “I was unable to take her to the hospital again to follow up because at that time we didn’t have money.”
After nine years, Sarah and Monica were finally able to make it back to CURE. The second surgery would be more complex, as it would require a time-intensive frame to be placed on her leg. These frames are not a quick fix. They involve placing a frame on her leg and turning the key periodically to move the bone. It is quite painful and requires patients to be in the hospital for an extended stay.
“When we decided to come here again I thought that they would just give her another cast since they already operated on her,’” said Monica. “I didn’t think they would give her a frame! My daughter was about to sit for the Primary School Leaving Certificate, and I feared that the treatment would disturb her studies – so I suggested that we come here again in June after her exams.”
“When I walk long distances, it hurts a lot,” said Sarah, as she considered the treatment plan. “So I want to be treated even though the treatment is painful. I have seen how my friend Aisha with a frame was crying when they were tuning her frame. I know I will be crying like her, but I want to feel the pain now, not later.”
Sarah had a different opinion from her mom about the timing of the surgery. She was eager to be healed. “I want to start the treatment as soon as possible,” said Sarah. “I have been suffering with my leg for so long.” Monica had the final word, though, and they went home so Sarah could finish her exams. However, they returned immediately following the completion of her exams – of which, she passed!
Sarah spent about a year coming in and out of CURE’s hospital throughout her treatment. The surgeons applied a frame after cutting her bone to begin straightening it, and then she needed to complete the alignment with frame turns. This took quite some time, but Sarah worked hard! Little by little, her bone straightened out. Sarah had the motivation needed to keep at it, too. “I want to be an ambassador when I grow up,” she said. “I want to work in Egypt in the Malawian Embassy.”
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Sarah and Monica at their home. They share more of what Sarah’s life had been like growing up there. Sarah sadly shared how difficult it was. She did not want to leave her home because each time she walked out of the house, the villagers mocked her and were not sympathetic. Her identity was that of the girl with the twisted leg. The village Afumu (chief) even became involved in her struggle and defended her to the villagers. She encouraged Sarah to seek treatment at CURE Malawi.
The treatment at CURE Malawi completely changed Sarah’s life! “All those people have been silenced, and now they are very appreciative of what CURE has done,” Monica beams.
Sarah is taking her recovery day by day as the swelling continues to go down. She is back in the village where they are no longer making fun of her but are thanking God for her healing.
Now, Sarah can walk long distances, play with her siblings, and help her family with chores. She is so happy to be like everybody else and has finally found the freedom she deeply desired.