Today we visited a successful NGO formed in 1975 in Jaipur known as Jaipur Foot. This organization helps amputees rehabilitate themselves and re-renter the workforce. Many of these amputees are victims of workplace injury. They create a prosthetic limb from plaster and rubber for less than $35 which is realistic looking and quite functional. The patients themselves are treated free of charge and all services are provided from donated funds. Jaipur Foot provides not only artificial limbs, but also calipers, crutches, ambulatory aids like wheelchairs, and hand paddled tricycles.
The processes used by the organization were very advanced and it seemed they make a huge effort to train patients in some sort of trade so they would have a way to make money when they left the center. The organization has chapters all over the world and has been treating people in places like Manila, Nairobi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Honduras, and Panama, with the help of Rotary International, the World Rehabilitation Fund and other organizations. They also provide training to local medical technicians so that they can continue working when Jaipur Foot technicians return to India.
We were given a tour of the organization site in SMS hospital. There are many stages to the process including collecting a mold, filling the mold with plaster of paris, and using this mold to create a rubber foot and leg. The patients we met seemed happy and were enjoying lunch provided by Jaipur Foot. Most organizations do charge a small fee for such services and an employee at the organization said they are sometimes criticized for providing all of this for free. Apparently, there is a feeling among NGOs in India that it is important to charge a small fee for charitable services to be taken seriously. But the patients who come to Jaipur foot usually have no money at all and therefore a service fee model would not work for them.