“You can’t travel 50 feet in Afghanistan and not see an amputee,” says Hugh Panton of the Hanger Orthopedic Group. Hanger is the world’s leading maker of prosthetic limbs for amputees. “Every day, we saw eight to ten amputees on the street.”
Mission of Restoration
Along with three other Hanger employees, Panton arrived in Kabul on October 20 for a 10-day mission of restoration. Using an abandoned Russian clinic next to a hospital, they created a prosthetic center in the midst of Afghanistan’s devastation. There, land mines have left a large portion of the population with missing arms or legs.
According to UNICEF, there are still more than nine million active land mines strewn across Afghanistan. Many of those maimed children stumble upon them while playing or caring for the family animals.
Although Panton and his team would love to provide new legs and arms for all injured children, they have to focus mainly on the adults. While a 10-year-old child injured by a land mine would have to get sized for 25 different prostheses during his lifetime, adults can usually live with one well-made prosthesis for many years.
The Lame Shall Walk!
Not content to repair broken bodies, Panton and his partners set up a website to teach schoolchildren about mines, amputees, and prosthetics. That site, www.hanger.com, is a bright point of encouragement that teachers around the world are using. Panton’s team made 49 legs and six arms in 10 days. That’s five legs per day—built, molded, fitted, adjusted, and attached. Imagine 49 people crawling into the clinic and walking out!
It is as if the Biblical miracles are continuing: And the lame shall walk!
Dick Duerksen writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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