A distant voice crackles over phone in broken English: “Me Sat Singh Tamong, the ‘one-legged man’, as the children here call me.” Two years ago, Tamong, a forest guard at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, was attacked by a rhinoceros. He was critically injured on head and chest, and lost a leg. When he regained consciousness after several days of treatment, he realised that “losing a limb doesn’t mean you have lost your life. Although I can’t go back to being the same, I was ready for a new and different experience. Challenging, but never dull.”
At the Jaipur Foot fitment camp organised jointly by RC Guwahati Metro, RID 3240, and Shree Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, Dispur, 15 amputees were fitted with artificial limbs; Tamong was one of them. While the Viklang Sahayata Samiti helped the club identify the beneficiaries, four club members — Arun Sharma, Shekhar Agarwal, R P Sureka and club president Uttam Kothari — sponsored the Jaipur limbs costing ₹60,000.
“It’s better than crutches. But I still need to get used to it,” says Tamong. Mira, 54, another beneficiary from Nagaon, 121km from Guwahati, says “this will help me carry on with my daily chores and activities like household work, bathing and getting dressed on my own.”
An amputee himself Dr Sushil Surana, the limb fitment in-charge and technician at the Samiti, says, “it can take time for amputees to finally accept their limb loss. With a positive mindset, along with physical rehabilitation and the prosthetic limbs, they can show tremendous improvement in their quality of life. Of course, it is crucial that family and friends support them while they struggle to cope with the change.”
For DG Subhasish Chatterjee who inaugurated the project and fitted the limbs for a beneficiary, “nothing beats the smile on their face. Instead of posing for pictures along with us, one beneficiary who had lost both limbs, stood up after getting his prosthetic feet fitted and took pictures of us. I was stunned at his enthusiasm.”
With a strength of 26 members who are all Paul Harris Fellows, this club has been doing a variety of projects to support the local community and also contributes to TRF in these challenging times. “They must partner with a few other clubs in the district to do larger community projects to reach more beneficiaries,” says Chatterjee.
Kothari, a second-generation Rotarian, says despite Covid constraints and challenges, “we are finding ways to carry on with humanitarian projects by observing the necessary protocols.” For him changing the life of an eight-year-old amputee by fitting her with a Jaipur foot was ‘most satisfactory’. The club will be continuing with the artificial limb fitment camp each year to empower the physically challenged, he says.