Determined Parents Fight Clubfoot Stigma in Tanzania

With each push of a rickety bicycle’s pedals, Vicent’s future is changing for the better.

Born to farmers in a small village in Tanzania, Vicent was the first in his family to have clubfoot. After his birth, the villagers treated baby Vicent and his parents as outcasts. Community members did not realize that clubfoot is a treatable congenital birth defect; they said Vicent had been cursed and encouraged the family to see a witch doctor.Vicente's mother and father hold the baby and stand behind their bicycle

Luckily, Vicent’s mother had given birth at a local hospital where doctors knew about clubfoot. She did not believe the misinformation and was happy when doctors referred the family to Shinyanga Hospital for free treatment at a MiracleFeet-supported clinic.

Even with the availability of free treatment, the process of bringing Vicent to the clinic for weekly appointments was arduous. Vicent’s father would pedal the family’s bicycle 55km to the clinic, his wife and child perched on the back as passengers. The journey took them at least four hours, sometimes longer, but to Vicent’s mother, the long travel time was worth it. “I never expected the treatment to result in such a change,” she marveled. “His foot is now completely corrected.”

There is still much work to do to change attitudes towards the 2,500 children born with clubfoot each year in Tanzania. Vicent’s mom considers lack of clubfoot awareness a huge problem in their community and the memory of being ostracized by her neighbors is still painful.

Despite the numerous challenges – lack of resources, a long journey, community attitudes, and feelings of isolation – Vicent’s parents persevered. They are beaming as they imagine a future where Vicent becomes a doctor and helps other children in need. “It’s a miracle that his foot has been corrected,” says his mother.

Learn more about the Tanzania Clubfoot Care Organization, our partner in Tanzania.