Jaipur Foot: Walking home in dignity

Before visiting Jaipur Foot with the Journeys for Change team, I was afraid of what I would see and how I would feel once we are there. With 1.35 Million produced artificial limbs, Jaipur Foot is the world’s largest producer of world-class artificial limbs, rehabilitation aids and other appliances to physically-challenged individuals below the poverty line. People from all over the country and even beyond go on a pilgrimage to this place to receive an artificial limb for free. We were the outsiders, walking in as visitors to see the poorest amputees sitting in front of the campus waiting to be able to walk out in a couple of days.

Jaipur Foot is a non-profit organization, providing free prosthetics to every person arriving at their campus (often with a few last coins in their pockets). Every day the Jaipur site fits 60 artificial limbs. People arriving at the campus will wait 2 days on average until their limb is fitted. On top of the actual treatment, Jaipur Foot provides food, accommodation and often money for the trip back home (which most people could not afford).

The idea to set up Jaipur Foot resulted from a traumatizing life-threatening accident, when D. R. Mehta, founder of BMVSS (Jaipur Foot) nearly lost his leg. Whilst he spent time in hospital, he thought about the fact, how his life would entirely change, if he weren’t able to pay for the treatment. Where would a poor person, losing a limb in an accident, by a land mine  or by disease go to get an artificial limb? That was, when the idea started to found a non-profit organization for the poorest amputees to support them regain mobility, dignity and thereby making them a normal, self-respecting and productive member of the society.

The impact of Jaipur Foot becomes obvious in a Time Magazine article of 2007 stating: “People who live inside the world’s many war zones from Afghanistan to Rwanda may never have heard of New York or Paris, but they are likely to know a town in Northern India called Jaipur.”

The beauty of Jaipur Foot is the lightness, innovative technique and its price. Due to its lightness people can walk, run, trek, swim, sit cross-legged, walk on uneven terrain, work in wet fields and pedal bicycles. In collaboration with Stanford University the Jaipur-Knee was developed and claimed one of the 50 Best Inventions of the world in 2009 by Time Magazine. Whilst a comparable artificial limb in the US costs 18.000 USD, a prosthetic of Jaipur Foot costs 50 USD. See the presentation of Joel Saddler, MIT and Stanford University student and Jaipur Foot engineer, at TEDx Jamaica about the Jaipur Foot technology and how it is impacting peoples lives.

BMVSS is financially supported by the Indian Government (Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment) and by private donors. Anybody who wants to donate to this project is more than welcome to do this here. Every 50 USD will provide a person in need with a limb to walk home with dignity.

Since 1975 Jaipur Foot has provided 440.690 limbs, 363.973 calipers, 418.770 crutches, 87.851 wheel chairs, 23.967 hearing aids and 7.385 surgeries. It is operating in 27 countries (e.g. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Sudan and Sri Lanka).

Take 8 minutes of your time to travel to the campus like I did, to feel the amazing life change Jaipur Foot offers, to learn about the simple as well as highly engineered technique of the limbs and to listen to the full hearted and dedicated founder Mr. Mehta.

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