Flip-flops -an appropriate technology

  Staff training in appropriate technology

John gave me great news the other day that two Fantsuam Foundation staff would be going to Oyo State in the south west of Nigeria to receive training in the use and development of appropriate technology to help people with health issues and disabilities. John told me yesterday that the staff have begun the training and will be spending a further 10 days in Ibadan before they return with their newly acquired knowledge. John will let us know once his staff return and they have begun to think how they will use this knowledge in Fantsuam.

Flip-flops can be the solution

All this made me think about my experience when I worked as a social worker in the teaching hospital in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, about 25 years ago. A woman came to the hospital from a rural area some distance away. Firstly she was infected with guinea worm from drinking contaminated water. The worm was exiting her body through her leg and the only way to deal with this was to wind the worm round a stick as it emerged until it had entirely left. I heard recently on the radio that thankfully this disease may be eradicated in the near future. Using a stick was a simple although very painful remedy for a major health problem.

Secondly, one of her legs was shorter than the other and she walked with a pronounced stoop using a stick. The constant stooping in turn caused her pain in her back. She was referred to the occupational therapy department at the hospital for advice. Nothing could remedy the disability itself but to help her walk upright the occupational therapist asked the social work department to buy several pairs of flip-flops from the charitable fund we used. Using the right sided flip-flops only, the occupational therapist took off the ‘thongs’ and glued together the soles to make a ‘built up ‘ shoe that allowed the woman to walk upright for the first time. This was a cheap and quick solution to help alleviate her disability.

I am looking forward to hearing what other things may be possible when the Fantsuam staff return from Ibadan.

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