When Handicap International first met Patrick, the boy was crawling around the rough black volcanic rock of Mugunga 3, a camp for people displaced by the rebel conflict in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. The front of his white shirt and yellow shorts were smeared with black dust. Due to a congenital malformation, Patrick was born without hands or legs and so he crawled or scooted around as best he can. Patrick lives in a tent with mother and sister; his father abandoned the family when he was born.
“Meeting Patrick was a very powerful experience for the whole team,” says Aurélie Viard, who manages the project that identified him. “He’s a wonderful boy, so full of life. Every time we meet him, he reaches out his arm for a heart-felt high five. When we met him, we immediately understood that he needed lots of things, but probably not psychological support.”
In partnership with ICRC, Patrick was fit with artificial legs and is making regular visits to a disability centre for physical therapy. When an amputee or someone born without legs is first fitted with an orthopaedic device, they usually need to use crutches for a while. Because he can’t use crutches, Patrick finds the process more difficult.
“Patrick’s got his own way of doing things, and he’d really rather play with a ball than practice with his prostheses between parallel bars at the centre,” says Viard. “But, we always find a way of encouraging him to go the extra mile. It’s a big challenge, but we think he’s capable of it, and he can count on the support of our teams.”