22 March, 2023
MiracleFeet: Changing lives, step by step
Special Interest programme / Partner story / Video
Photo credit: MiracleFeet
To say that Samantha loves to dance would be an understatement. It is her joy, her passion, and takes up almost all of her time when she’s not in school. With the music blaring, she moves with confidence and precision, each motion flowing perfectly into the next. As Samantha continues to bust out moves, her mother, Chipo, watches proudly from the other side of the room. Ten years ago, after giving birth to Samantha in a hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, she could never have imagined that her daughter would ever be able to walk, let alone dance.
Samantha was born with clubfoot, a treatable birth impairment that causes one or both feet to turn inward and upward. Around the world, every three minutes, a child with clubfoot is born. An effective, nonsurgical treatment, known as the Ponseti method, is readily accessible in countries with advanced health systems, but fewer than 15 per cent of children born with clubfoot in low- and middle-income countries can access the treatment.
“I thought she’d be like that for life”, said Chipo, who had never hear of clubfoot before. “On the first day, I cried like nobody’s business. I had already bought her a pair of shoes, but I was told she’d never be able to wear them.”
For over ten years, MiracleFeet has partnered with the Zimbabwe Sustainable Clubfoot Programme, adding new clinics to a growing network of hospitals across the country that provide treatment using the Ponseti method. This partnership is producing great results: over 3,500 children like Samantha have been treated across the programme’s network of 13 clubfoot clinics, and over 50 per cent of all babies born with clubfoot begin treatment at a MiracleFeet-supported clinic before their first birthday.
MiracleFeet is committed to implementing a sustainable solution by building upon the skills of the local healthcare workforce in each country. MiracleFeet trains providers around the world in basic and advanced Ponseti skills and teaches frontline health workers how to detect clubfoot at birth to ensure babies are reliably referred to treatment at a young age.
Samantha was successfully treated at the clubfoot clinic in Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, an experience that motivated Chipo to volunteer as a “Ponseti Guide” for the Zimbabwe Sustainable Clubfoot Program, travelling to the clubfoot clinic every week to counsel parents and support them through the treatment process.
“I wanted to spread the word to others that this can be treated,” Chipo explains. “But I also tell them it’s not a one-day fix. You have to keep on keeping on and never lose hope.”
This grant falls under the Special Interest Programme, which covers a wide range of fields, including health, humanitarian relief, education, and the arts. You can find more about the programme’s work and strategy here. To learn more about MiracleFeet, you can check out their 2022 impact report and video.