At the age of 23, Faizul Haque worked in a garment factory to support his young family. Every morning he commuted by train from Kaliganj, a village outside Dhaka, to his workplace in the capital city. One such morning, Haque’s train crashed head-on into another, costing him one of his legs, and leaving the other badly damaged.
For someone as poor as Haque, a wheelchair is prohibitively expensive. So Haque invented a way of moving using two footstools; he would put one stool in front of the other, sit on one and then heave himself onto the stool ahead. Although he could only move slowly, at least Haque managed to get around.
Defying all the stereotypes about disabled people, Haque started a poultry farm, which he later sold to open a roadside shop. The story of the footstool-propelled shopkeeper soon spread around the village, bringing customers flocking to his store. With his business flourishing, Haque was able to pay for his children’s college expenses.
However, at the age of 48, Haque realized he was getting older. Moving around on a pair of footstools was getting increasingly difficult. Fortunately, Haque was able to receive treatment at the Prosthetic Unit of the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Savar. Seeing him stand for the first time in 25 years seemed like a miracle to Haque’s wife. “Now everyone in the village is waiting to see him walk. No one can believe it! After so long … it’s amazing!”
For Haque’s family, artificial legs were previously beyond means. “Ten years ago, I looked at the possibility of applying for prosthetic limbs. I tried hospitals and spoke to several NGOs, but I still couldn’t afford them,” explains Haque. With financial and technical support from the International Committee Of The Red Cross (ICRC), the CRP is now able to offer high-quality prosthetic and orthopaedic appliances to patients at a subsidized rate. These treatments are complemented with post-operative physiotherapy.
Haque is looking forward to be back home soon, and plans to carry supplies to the shop himself when his sons are not around!
Written for the ICRC Website