More than 20 crippled Lebanese, victims of land mine blasts in that country, are able to walk now, thanks to the prosthetic Jaipur Foot developed by a non-governmental organisation here.
A two-member team from the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) conducted a preliminary camp in the last week of June in Beirut where they fitted the famous Jaipur Foot on 22 Lebanese who had lost their legs in land mine explosions.
"Colonel Subash Pawar, of the fourth battalion of the Sikh regiment and part of the 11-nation United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), approached us to alleviate the sufferings of people with amputated limbs in that country," said D.R. Mehta, founder and patron of the organisation.
After BMVSS proposed providing the artificial limbs free of cost, Col. Pawar contacted the organisation and even visited Jaipur to discuss the modalities of holding a camp.
"We organised a preliminary camp for about a week during which 22 people were fitted with the Jaipur Foot. The response there was amazing," Mehta said.
"The Jaipur Foot is closest to the natural foot. The artificial foot is so flexible that a person can also climb a tree," Mehta said. "Several American doctors and members of the UN forces there were amazed to see the performance of the Jaipur foot. They have decided to organise a huge camp in October for which a team of about 6-8 members of BMVSS would go," he added.
The team that had gone to Beirut in June has left behind most of its major equipment. They are sure to visit the Lebanese capital again as soon as peace returns there.
According to Mehta, BMVSS has organised a number of camps in many foreign countries and helped over 16,000 people at these camps by fitting the Jaipur foot.
"We organised camps in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Nepal among other countries," Mehta said. They now plan to hold a camp in Pakistan.
The highlight of the Jaipur Foot is its lightness and mobility. Apart from walking, those who wear it are able to climb trees and pedal bicycles. It is fairly cheap - $30 in India - and is made of rubber (mostly), wood and aluminium.