In 2011, three-year-old Chetra’s life was turned upside down when a speeding motorcycle struck him. He had been picking leaves from a small bush on the edge of the road near his home when he was struck at such a force that his foot was torn from his leg.
Chetra was taken to a hopsital the Cambodia capital of Phnom Penh where doctors amputated part of his leg to save his life. When his stump healed, he was referred to Handicap International, and was given a prosthetic leg.
Today, at age seven, his bad memories of the accident are behind him, and he's a cheerful boy, happily attending school in his village. Because his family has very little money, Chetra’s parents work an hour's drive away, in Kampong Cham. He and his siblings live with their grandparents in the village. The money his parents make as laborers supplements the grandparents’ small income from selling rice and milk.
“I wish my parents lived with me,” Chetra says. “I don’t like leaving my mom.”
His mother feels the same way. “It’s hard for me to be separated from my children, and to work so far away. I only see them once a month. But we don’t have any choice. The whole family depends on our wages. Fortunately, Handicap International is helping us with Chetra.”
Bursting with energy, Chetra jumps, climbs, and runs everywhere, putting lots of wear and tear on his prosthetic leg. In fact, Handicap International recently repaired the foot of his fourth prosthesis.
In the summer of 2015, Chetra faced yet another challenge. Davann, a Handicap International’s social worker following the Chetra's case, learned that the boy was suffering from a high fever and that his stump was infected. She organized an emergency consultation and the outcome was extremely worrying: his amputation had been poorly done, and the surgeon had not left enough skin for Chetra to grow. In fact, after a recent growth spurt, a bone had pierced the skin.
Chetra had been hiding the pain. “My leg hurt, especially at night,” he says. “I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want them to take my prosthesis away.”
His stump was infected and he risked developing septicemia. Handicap International immediately sent him, along with his grandmother, to the pediatric hospital in Phnom Penh, covering the costs of their transportation, accommodation, and meals. Surgeons there successfully operated on Chetra.
“I put my old prosthesis next to me at night,” he says. “I don’t like walking with crutches, but I use them because I want to get better. I just want to be able to put my prosthesis back on and run like before.”
When his stump is fully healed, Handicap International will make him a new prosthesis.