This is 12 year old Barkat Ahmad who lives with his poor family in Kashmir in the north of India. Barkat was born with a rare condition but his father never gave up helping Barkat to walk just like his friends…
Barkat was born with phocomelia, a rare congenital deformity in which the hands or feet are attached close to the trunk, the limbs being grossly underdeveloped or absent.
Sadly in Kashmiri society many people have very little resources and disability is seen as a drain on the community. When Barkat was born with his disability the mid-wife advised his father to kill the child. But his father is a special man and knew that was not the right thing to do and said “this is a test from God”.
Barkat’s Father Never Gives Up
His father took seven-day-old Barkat to a specialist in the city who he hoped may have a cure for his son. The doctor asked them to return the next day where he told the father that he had a dream that night about Barkat. He told the father to accept his fate and said that Barkat was not an ordinary child and told him to do nothing.
Barkat’s father did not give up and the following years he took him to various health camps organised by local non-government organisations and charities in Kashmir and other Indian states. But no one could help Barkat walk on his own. All they could do was donate wheelchairs and tricycles.
Barkat Starts School
At the age of four Barkat started school but his elder brother refused to push the wheelchair up the hill. So Barkat’s devoted father carrried him on his back to school every day.
Despite his physical challenges Barkat is a very bright boy, excels at school and receives many accolades from his teachers for his brilliance.
When he was too big for his father to carry him Barkat used a wooden crutch to help him walk but unfortunately this created a hard lump under the buckle of his right arm.
Hope Disability Centre Camp Helps Out (HDC)
Barkat attended a health camp organised by our Hope Disability Centre at Handwara, just north of Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir. The technician who assessed Barkat assured the father-son duo that HDC could make a leg prosthesis for him so he could walk normally. The duo could not believe their ears!
Challenges in prosthesis making
Barkat and his father then stayed at the HDC Prosthetic and Orthotic unit so measurements could be taken, adjustments made and a trail run undertaken of the prosthesis. This was the first time in HDC’s history that they had manufactured this type of prosthesis.
The challenge was that Barkat had no stump to fit the prosthesis. Therefore, the technician decided to make an “extension prosthesis” or ortho-prosthesis. Barkat uses his hip power to lift the prosthesis and a mechanical knee joint was also added to make it functional. To bear the pressure, rubber cushions were used in the socket and simple straps were used to make the prostheses easy to wear and take off.
While, the technician was preparing the prosthesis, HDC took care of the father-son’s boarding and lodging facilities. The family lived below the poverty line so everything provided to them was free.
Ready to Walk
After a few days the limb was ready and Barkat took off walking. He could not stop smiling! His father’s eyes were moist with tears of joy as this father of five praised the work and dedication of Hope Disability Centre.
“Now this limb will shut everyone’s mouth who taunted me that my son will never walk without a crutch or a support!”
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