In September 2012, Daffala Saila, a 46-year-old shop keeper from a small village in South Sudan, suddenly developed back pain. It grew steadily grew worse, and he began to lose sensation in his legs.
By the time his brother was able to bring him to the nearest hospital, Daffala could no longer stand or even sit up. He was diagnosed with Pott’s disease, an infection of the spinal column caused by tuberculosis.
Because Daffala’s brother couldn’t be away from his family for long, he had to leave Daffala by himself at the hospital. “When he left, I felt really lonely,” says Daffala. “I was very frightened.”
As part of his treatment, which included medication, Daffala was put on a daily physiotherapy regime to strengthen his muscles and prevent stiffness in his joints. “The daily visits from my Handicap International physiotherapist were a big help, both morally and physically,” says Daffala.
Thanks to his determination, Daffala has made rapid progress. After two weeks of physiotherapy, he managed to sit up on his own and remain seated in a wheelchair. After two months, he could take steps with a walking frame for support. Now he can walk a few steps by himself using a single crutch. Soon, he will be able to return to his village and, one day, reopen the store he ran with his family.
Handicap International has been working in southern Sudan since 2006. Its rehabilitation project at the Maban camp was supported by DG ECHO, the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Centre de Crise of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.