The famous Jaipur Foot will soon help many Pakistani amputees lead a normal life. A team of 16 skilled Indian technicians, mostly handicapped, will visit Pakistan this month to provide prosthetics to almost 700 people who lost their legs in the 2005 earthquake.
'We will organise two outdoor camps in Islamabad and Karachi for fitting Jaipur Foot,' S.R. Mehta, the general secretary of the Jaipur-based NGO Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, told IANS.
'We will spend Rs.6 million that we have collected through donations and we will not charge any money from the beneficiaries,' he said.
'Many of the identified beneficiaries are victims of the 2005 earthquake,' Mehta said.
He added that machinery and other material, weighing around five tonnes, required for manufacturing the artificial limbs have already reached the campsites.
The NGO has organised a number of camps in foreign countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Sudan, Uganda and Vietnam.
A Jaipur-based sculptor, Ram Charan Sharma, conceived the Jaipur Foot. After conducting trials and with guidance of P.K. Sethi, an eminent orthopaedic surgeon, Jaipur Foot was launched for public use in 1968.
Since 1975, the Samiti has been giving the artificial limb free of cost to amputees. The rehabilitation centre has so far benefited over a million people.
From 1968 to 1975 only 59 patients were fitted with Jaipur Foot, but demand for the artificial limb grew outside India during the Afghan War, which began in the late 1970s. Thousands of people lost their legs due to Russian landmines and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) discovered that Jaipur Foot was the hardiest limb for the mountainous Afghan terrain.
Since then, landmine victims in many countries have been fitted with Jaipur Foot. The Samiti has provided relief to over 15,400 physically disabled people in foreign countries.
The NGO's centre here is called 'mini India' as people from all over the country go there for help.
'We receive patients from Gujarat, Assam, Srinagar and Kanyakumari,' a Samiti official said.
While similar prosthetics can cost several thousand dollars in the US, Jaipur Foot costs only between $20 and $28 in India. Sublimely low-tech, it is made of rubber, wood and aluminium and can be assembled with local material.
The beauty of Jaipur Foot lies in its lightness and mobility - those who wear it can run, climb trees and pedal bicycles.