Davpack Talks To Legs4Africa

Reading Time: 6 minutes

An opportunity arose for Davpack to interview an amazing charity called Legs4Africa for part of our ‘Davpack Talks To’ series. Legs4Africa is an inspirational organisation that donates prosthetic legs to amputees in need across Africa. They help countless people in developing countries gain independence, alongside assisting in the emotional and physical rehabilitation of amputees in Africa. Whilst interviewing Stefanie – the current delivery and partner expert – we learned all about what inspired the charity to become what it is today, how they go above and beyond for the individuals they help, along with the journey of the prosthetic legs travelling from Bristol to Africa.

The Backstory of Legs4Africa

The founder of the charity, Tom Williams, visited the Gambia in 2013 and became close with a local family, the father of which was an amputee. Tom wanted to see what he could do for him in terms of making huge efforts to get him a prosthetic leg from the United Kingdom. Williams eventually was able to form some contacts and get a leg from a prosthetist in Portsmouth, after receiving the prosthesis, Tom was able to give it to the father, who was waiting in the Gambia to receive the leg. This beautiful moment between the two gentlemen would change the future of so many amputees. Seeing this positive effect on one person, Tom realised how many others could benefit from his help, so he started to gather further contacts to gain access to all different parts of prosthetics that could be manufactured and given to more amputees. Components such as knees and feet, which usually would cost thousands of pounds were just being thrown out, wasting away on landfill sites, whilst those in need were suffering. Williams continued to grow his collection of legs alongside his network of friends and began sharing every prosthetic leg he could. Within the first 6 months, the Legs4Africa team had managed to accumulate 500 legs that were meant to go to landfills, and stored them in Tom’s parents’ bedroom, later transferring them to Banjul. At first, the charity could only help people in the Gambia, but as the charity’s members and support grew, so did the database of clinics across Africa, which allowed Legs4Africa to aid several other countries.

Legs4Africa aims to give a voice to the people in services and the individuals that the charity helps and works beside. ‘We are publishing a lot more posts, shipping a lot higher amounts of prosthetic legs, looking into more holistic groups alongside into advocacy, putting in the time and effort to raise the voices of those benefitting from our services’ stated Stefanie. Legs4Africa aims to not become a charity whose relationship with their contacts is just patronage, they want it to be a partnership. Their aims include decreasing the stigmatisation of amputees and raising their comfortability with life, helping them be understood by those not affected by limb loss. The organisation understands that it is not something that needs to be done by achievements but also incorporated into the morals of the Legs4Africa team. Individuals working with the charity have taken countless training courses, two of which were with the Norfolk LGBTQ project, which Stefanie expressed ‘opened everyone’s eyes about the issues faced by the LGBTQ community, and the things that Legs4Africa could be doing, as an organisation, to make sure that all members of the community felt safe, secure and supported by the charity’. Legs4Africa is further working on their HR resources to make sure that equality and endorsement are solidly reflected in their policies, procedures, and ethos: ‘I think we are really adamant that we aren’t just ticking a box, we want to be benefitting other people, and not just our reputation’.

Stand Out Stories

Even though the prosthetic leg donation process can be long and tiring, it is worthwhile when individuals that have been suffering for so long finally get the prosthesis they deserve. Stefanie explained how a man got in touch with the charity over a year ago and was struggling to access the leg he needed, as he lived 8 to 9 hours away – in Nigeria – from the clinic’s location in Abuja. The charity was doing as much as they possibly could without giving preferential treatment to this individual, but after a year of hard work, and extra expenses such as labour cost finally being paid for, just over a month ago Legs4Africa received a message from the gentleman explaining he had finally got his prosthetic leg. ‘Usually, we will hear about the services and the beneficiaries, but we are very aware that there is so much more wonderful work of many prosthetists that is not always acknowledged, we also experience a bit of a wall between getting to know the amputees and their stories, so it was amazing to know this man’s story and it really positively lifted everyone’s spirits at the charity.’ Especially with everything that is occurring with the pandemic, and all the negatives constantly appearing in the news, or in daily life, it is nice for the organisation to see some wins.

Why the Charity Chose Davpack

Legs4Africa revealed the reason they chose Davpack was because they were let down multiple times by another packaging company, so began to search for other, more reliable options. They found Davpack after searching for packaging companies with ethical values. Legs4Africa believes they are a charity with an ‘eco-edge’, as they save prosthetic legs from landfills, therefore were impressed by Davpack’s tree planting scheme and our large eco-packaging range. It was clear to Legs4Africa that Davpack and the foundation have similar beliefs and passions, they later revealed that we have never let them down in the two years that they have been ordering from us!

Legs4Africa have managed to complete over 100 shipments so far, half with their ‘Deliver A Leg’ project, where good Samaritans would offer their spare luggage space to take the prosthetic legs with them on their travels to Africa, and the rest with the help of Davpack boxes. Last October, the charity managed to deliver prostheses’ to over 35 different locations, but not only do they send the prosthetic legs and change people’s lives through these technologies, but they also offer mental health and COVID-19 support to individuals situated across Africa. The organisation has helped 9 people with emotional support and 48 amputee households have received COVID-19 outreach sustenance. Legs4Africa wants to go above and beyond with the service they provide for those less fortunate, it is their responsibility not to ignore other resources individuals may need. The closure of services and lessening of access to them due to the pandemic has increased the invisibility of those with disabilities; ‘we see a lot of stigma on disabilities and mental health, so we work to fight that and challenge it. There’s still a stigma in the UK and other western countries, so in Africa, the stigma is a lot higher’ expressed Stefanie. Often with amputees, Legs4Africa found that before the operation, people would leave it as long as possible, which would cause worse injury or death due to them not understanding how to deal with amputation and the emotional effects it would have on them not being supported. Legs4Africa has trained individuals to give one-to-one sessions to people to help with their mental health and convince them that they can carry on essential tasks in their daily lives. The organisation does a lot more than just donating the prosthetics, they care for every person in need even after the first supposed ‘job’ of the passing of the leg is done.

Legs4Africa is an amazing charity, Davpack are so glad that they could partake in this interview and help spread awareness of the cause. Connect with Davpack’s FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn for a chance to be included in future blogs! To support and donate to Legs4Africa, click this link for a monetary donation: https://www.legs4africa.org/support/ or if you can spare a leg, click here: https://www.legs4africa.org/donate-prosthetic-leg/

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Sarah Hickson

With more than seven years experience as a member of the Davpack sales team, there are few who know more about the range of packaging materials we sell than Sarah. She recently left the company to become a full-time mother, but still maintains regular contact with her former colleagues. As well as sharing her own accumulated wisdom and experience on the blog, Sarah is looking forward to passing on stories from the front line of packaging sales. Davpack

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