As the proverb goes, “It takes a village.” We can certainly attest to this in the countries where we work with communities, health care providers, and extended family members to ensure children born with clubfoot get the proper care they need. Addressing this birth defect as early as possible ensures the best treatment outcomes. In many countries, an integral part of MiracleFeet’s support model involves training midwives – who are often the only healthcare providers present during deliveries – to identify clubfoot.
Rottanak, now an energetic five-year-old, was born in Cambodia with unilateral clubfoot in his right foot. Not only did the observant midwife at his birth identify it immediately, but that very same hospital housed a clubfoot clinic, supported by MiracleFeet.
Rottanak’s father works as a subsistence farmer and fisher, and his mother has a small shop where she sells coffee. When they brought Rottanak home from the hospital they were confident and felt very little stress regarding Rottanak’s clubfoot because of the midwife’s confidence in the path to treatment. However, they were met with skepticism and doubt in their community. Neighbors chided the parents for past mistakes, claiming their son was cursed and would never be healed.
The criticism continued to build even after the first few casting treatments. When there was no immediate obvious physical change in Rottanak’s feet, neighbors and even close family members became more vocal and pessimistic, warning that the risk and work of treatment were too great. Nevertheless, Rottanak’s parents continued to attend appointments and follow through with the treatment plan.
After the third round of casts, the difference in his foot was noticeable. After a tenotomy and several months with the brace, Rottanak happily explores his village with his friends. He is now in kindergarten and loves to run, play ball, and push his toys in the sand. His dedicated mother beams, “I see his feet completely changed.”