Holding onto the metal rails at Puspadi, a workshop located in Bali, 3-year-old Safitri stepped confidently on her first-ever pink-colored prosthetic legs.
Without hesitation, she took one step after another before turning in the opposite direction, holding onto the metal rails and occasionally smiling.
Safitri Zaskia, a resident of Pringgasela village, East Lombok, was born without legs. Her father is a migrant worker currently working in Malaysia, while her mother, Sofiani, 24, takes care of her full time.
Sofiani said limited access to health care and her family’s economic situation meant she was unable to detect her daughter’s condition prior to her birth.
“I did not get an ultrasound,” Sofiani said.
Safitri is not alone. Ulil Cahyani, 13, lost her right leg due to a malignant tumor when she was a toddler.
After waiting for quite a long time, the day finally came. On Dec 16, 2019, Sofiani and Safitri, accompanied by the Lombok Disability Center and Endri's Foundation, arrived in Bali at Padang Bai Port.
“Before leaving for Bali, my daughter asked when her legs would be done, even though she did not know what they would look like,” said Sofiani. “After getting her legs, she wanted to get shoes."
This favor means a lot for people like Safitri and Ulil, who find it very hard to access such assistive equipment. Their dreams of gaining somewhat normal mobility have finally come true.
“She is excited about going to school now that she is the same height as everyone else.”
That Friday, Safitri and her mother were scheduled to practice with the prosthetic legs at 10 a.m. But Safitri wanted to come early and arrived at 8 a.m. She seemed impatient. She had heard her prosthetic legs would be finished in pink. Ulil also seemed a bit nervous; her prosthetics would be finished blue.
A Puspadi staff member, Putu Oktaviani, approached them and asked them to wait in the play area for another 30 minutes because the glue had yet to dry. When the time came, Safitri found her legs had been finished in pink by Putu.
“They’re colored pink, just like you wanted!” she said to Safitri. The girl shyly smiled, with the pink outfit she wore for the day showing her love for the color.
For almost one week they trained at Puspadi Bali with assistance from the organization’s staff.
“Ulil, don’t just look down, look straight ahead,” said I Nengah Latra, director of Puspadi Bali.
Puspadi Bali aims to provide assistive equipment like prosthetics, orthotics and wheelchairs as well as rehabilitation facilities for people with disabilities to help empower them and break down stigmas.
A 2017 report from Monash University showed that disability is a problem that touches many lives in Indonesia, where 10 million people live with some form of disability. This represents 4.3 percent of the population. More than 8 million households, or 13.3 percent of all households, have at least one disabled person.
Diseases and accidents cause the majority of defects (76 percent), compared to congenital factors (17 percent). It is estimated that between 4 to 11 percent of the Indonesian population is affected by disabilities, thereby limiting their ability to participate in society.
“The limited space and sense of place that can be accessed by people with disabilities before getting this aid complicates their mobility. However, their independence and social aspects will be significantly impacted once they get these assistive devices, expanding their ability to participate in society,” said Gede Mahaputra, head of the Warmadewa Research Center.
Yande Agus, media and communications liaison for Puspadi Bali, stated that in previous times people with disabilities had to live very private lives and lacked confidence. But the assistive devices have now helped them stand up. These devices allow them to gain mobility in social life and to contribute to society.
At Puspadi, 70 percent of the staff are people with disabilities, he added. (vel/kes)