Sarita is a girl of 9 years old. She came to our notice when her mother carried her to meet our team that was bringing earthquake relief supplies to Kalika School in a remote and high part of Sindhuli district. These are all Tamang folk (mountain people): very poor, mostly illiterate, and most of the children speak only Tamang.
Sarita hasn’t got leprosy, but her feet were badly burned in a fire when she was just 8 months old. Her mother had gone to feed the goats and Sarita was left in the care of others. When mum returned, baby Sarita was crying, with her feet in the cooking fire. Her mother grabbed her and carried her down the mountainside in the dark for several hours to the district hospital, but they couldn’t do anything. She carried her home again and tried various ointments
for months, but with no success. They even went to a Kathmandu hospital which advised a below-knee amputation. After a very dark time during two years, when it seemed as if Sarita’s feet would never heal, the remains of her feet did finally heal but left her with only heels and a very small part of each foot, leaving her unable to walk without help. Dr Clugston felt that Lalgadh, with its experience of foot problems in leprosy, should be able to help Sarita’s walking and independence, and maybe improve things for her. The team therefore suggested that Sarita’s mum bring her to Lalgadh so that they could make some special shoes for her; and she did – carrying Sarita herself all the way!
The hospital team examined Sarita’s ankles and feet, and Gudri – the Footwear Dept Manager – got to work with his team. They made plaster casts of both feet, designed special padded inner “foot-gloves” made of soft rubber, and hand-made shoes to fit over the inner foot-gloves. This has been life-changing for Sarita and she is now learning to walk and run with her new shoes. She has gone home with these and another slightly larger pair to allow for growth.