Jabar’s Work With Artificial Limbs: Empowerment One Step at a Time

Even before Jabar became CRHP staff, he grew up with CRHP: “CRHP has been a part of my life since my childhood.” Jabar was one of five children, and he lived across the street from CRHP. Both his mother and his sister worked on staff, with his older sister working in the Julia Hospital as a nurse. Jabar, like many people here, is a second-generation CRHP staff member. Many children who grow up on CRHP’s campus decide to stay and work at CRHP as an adult, which highlights the reciprocal trust and strength built between the organization and the staff here. Jabar lives with his family at CRHP. He has three children, two of which have gone through CRHP’s Adolescent Programs. They are now continuing their education.

While working at CRHP, Jabar has “gotten a lot of experience in many various fields.” Over the years he has worked in the operating theater at the hospital, promoting public hygiene in the Project Villages, and as a handy man around campus. All of these experiences have led him to his current position as one of three men running the Artificial Limbs Workshop.

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The goal of the Artificial Limbs program is to utilize appropriate technology by training individuals and sourcing materials locally when constructing the Jaipur Foot, a prosthesis developed in northern India more than 50 years ago. Additionally, the Jaipur Foot is created with the rural lifestyle in mind, making the prostheses cost-effective and able to withstand the wear and tear of labor- intensive occupations. The program aims to empower individuals with lower-limb disabilities to enjoy a successful and productive life, regardless of socioeconomic status.

The majority of Artificial Limbs beneficiaries are farmers and laborers. The Jaipur Foot is critical to their ability to support their families through work. While other prosthetic options exist in Maharashtra, many of the limbs are unaffordable and are not built to last. CRHP fills this gap in affordable artificial limbs production by adapting the design for the lifestyle of the beneficiaries. The Jaipur Foot can either be below the knee or above the knee, but regardless of its size, it is built to last between three and five years on average. To continue keeping the cost of repair low for community members, the limb is designed with the ability to switch out parts that are in need of restoration. This increases the lifespan of the limb and lowers the cost of production for CRHP. Payment for the Jaipur Foot operates on a sliding scale. This means that anyone in need of an Artificial Limb is able to receive one for a nominal cost or free of charge, based on their ability to pay.

Like other programs at CRHP, the Artificial Limbs Workshop works comprehensively. Jabar is responsible not only for the construction of the limb, but also for ensuring that the individual feels comfortable using it: “I do just about everything. My work ranges from taking leg measurements and constructing the limb, helping individuals learn to walk, to training other communities on artificial limb production.” This training piece helps the Artificial Limbs Program and CRHP as a whole to scale up and create sustainable change within other communities. Between 1995 and 1998, Jabar travelled to Liberia, Angola, and Sierra Leone with the Artificial Limbs team to implement the Jaipur Foot in more communities around the world. In Liberia he recalls, “we both taught the people in Liberia and brought back four people to India for three months to train them.” Through this training, these individuals were able to begin their own workshop in Liberia with materials appropriate for their own communities. Jabar’s work at CRHP gives him the opportunity to help those facing adversity in his own community as well as those outside of India. Alone, Jabar has produced over 7,000 artificial limbs.

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“Today I am very proud that I work at CRHP. A person who could not walk or move before comes to receive our services, and we are able to help them stand on their feet again. It feels very good. My work is not about the money; it is about the pride and happiness that we feel enabling someone to be independent.”

 

Pictures By: Pooja Singh; Interview By: Pooja Singh; Written By: Chase Koob; Edited By: Annalise Tolley

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