One-year-old Divine is one of the 3,500 children born with clubfoot in the Philippines each year.
As her only child, and the only one in her family with this potentially devastating birth defect, Divine’s mother was desperate to help her child and willing to try anything.
The first step for many families is separating fact from fiction: Because her family and neighbors were unfamiliar with the condition, they speculated about why Divine had been born with the condition and how to correct it. Some said it was because her mother had eaten crab during pregnancy, and others told Divine’s mother that traditional massage techniques would straighten the little girl’s foot. But none of this made a difference. The massage techniques did not correct the child’s foot, nor did health care providers in town have adequate expertise in treating clubfoot.
Fortunately, one of the doctors Divine visited knew that help for her condition was available in Zamboanga City, about 130 km away. A network of 19 MiracleFeet-supported clinics, spread across the Philippines’ vast islands, provide high-quality clubfoot treatment for children at little or no cost; to date, they have enrolled 1,800 children in treatment.
The family immediately made arrangements to travel the five hours to the clinic and enroll in treatment. They faithfully attended her weekly casting appointments each Saturday, never missing a day and often arriving before the clinic opened! Each trip involved 10 hours or more by bus or taxi, but each casting brought Divine a step closer to walking normally.
“This is a story of perseverance,” says MiracleFeet’s Zamboanga City clinic coordinator Nurse Tanee. “Their sacrifices are incomparable, but because of their perseverance, Divine should have a normal life in the future.”
Divine is now in the bracing phase of treatment and her family feels hopeful that she will have an active and healthy childhood and access to any opportunity she wants in the future.
“She can finally wear a complete pair of shoes.”
For now, however, the family finds joy in the little things as they watch Divine grow.
“She can finally wear a complete pair of shoes,” her grandmother happily told clinic staff.
Read more stories from the Philippines here.