Athijeevanam – A New Lease of Life For three years now, Athijeevanam, the artificial limbs fitment camp hosted by RC Trivandrum Central has been enabling several physically-challenged people, to walk tall and stand on their own feet.

Technicians from MS Dada Foundation at work.
Technicians from MS Dada Foundation at work.

Athijeevanam in Malayalam means to survive/­outlive, and the artificial limbs fitment camp ­conducted by this club in RI District 3211 has been helping the ­orthopaedically-challenged and enabling them to ­outlive their disabilities. The camps held over the last two years have been a huge success. V S Sivakumar, Kerala ­Minister for Health, inaugurated the week-long camp at ­Sasthamangalam, Trivandrum. District Governor K S Sasi Kumar lauded the Rotarians for conducting the camp for the third successive year. He thanked State Bank of Travancore for its substantial donation.

The camp is a combined effort of the club along with Rotary Jaipur Limb (RJL) based in UK, and MS Dada ­Foundation, Chennai. Of the total expenditure of
Rs 7.1 lakh, Rs 5 lakh came from the RJL and the balance from corporate sponsorships and club contributions.

More than 200 people who had lost one or both legs in accidents, congenitally or due to some illnesses, have benefited from these camps.


Standing tall

Technicians from MS Dada Foundation assessed the ­feasibility of each patient.  Measurements were taken and moulds formed to provide custom-made artificial legs. By the fourth day the beneficiaries walked out of the camp in their own light-weight limbs supplied free of cost. “To many beneficiaries the moment to stand tall on their feet was magical; the instant relief and smiles on their faces showed their gratitude,” says Rtn S Balachandran, Secretary of the club.  Project Chair Rtn Suresh added, “Satisfaction for the club members is when they see the beneficiaries who are literally carried to the camp, walk back home fitted with the artificial limb.”


Help in time of distress

The story of Sadique, a daily wage labourer who was fighting cancer, and had his two legs amputated to curb the spreading disease was heartbreaking. “My world seemed to crash around me. But I had to agree to the amputation because that was the only way the spread of cancer could be prevented,” says Sadique. After surgery, his life was miserable as he had to crawl around and depend on his family and friends for even ­simple tasks.

A section of the recipients.
A section of the recipients.

The artificial limbs camp came as a big relief for him. There was a setback initially as the camp was not equipped to provide prosthetics for an above-knee-­amputee. The Rotarians reassured him and contacted the MS Dada ­Foundation in Chennai. After a second review he got a pair of shortened artificial limbs that would help him slowly build muscle strength to use normal artificial limbs. “I do not have words to describe my delight, when I was fitted with two shortened lower limbs. I am sure these will hasten my return to a ­productive and more self-reliant life,” says Sadique with a smile.

Onam celebrations were also organised at the paediatric ward of the Regional Cancer Centre, Trivandrum by this club. Terminally ill children participated in the event with enthusiasm. Prizes and gifts were distributed to the participants and winners. The celebration ended with Ona Sadya (a traditional spread served during Onam festival). This lively celebration lighted up the ward where otherwise pain, gloom and distress stalk the world of these children in the cancer ward.

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