Happy Mother’s Day from MiracleFeet

Maycol’s mother walked for hours, carrying her son on her back, to catch a bus to the clinic.

Majaliwa’s mother took her son and fled to safety after the boy’s father threatened to kill him.

Durga recalls the day she realized that her son Rizen might never walk. “If I remember that day,” she tearfully recounts, “my heart still bursts into pieces.”

These mothers might appear to have little in common; after all, they come from rural Guatemala, from the rolling hills of northwest Tanzania, and from a small town near Kathmandu, Nepal. But, like so many mothers across the world, they are proof that no obstacle is too great to overcome to improve their children’s lives.

This Mother’s Day, we honor the remarkable women everywhere, and the sacrifices they make for their little ones.

For the mothers of Maycol, Majaliwa, and Rizen, despite their extremely different backgrounds, something else unites them: they share the all-too-common experience of parenting children born with clubfoot.

From left to right: Majaliwa plays at the clinic in Tanzania; Maycol faithfully wears his MiracleFeet brace; Rizen and Durga walk together through their village in Nepal

A Common Birth Defect You’ve Probably Never Seen

An estimated 1 in 800 children worldwide is born with clubfoot—about the same prevalence as cleft lip and palate but seen less often because it is routinely and successfully treated shortly after birth in the US and other wealthy countries. Many are surprised to learn that untreated clubfoot is a leading cause of physical disability worldwide. 85% of cases occurring in countries where families have little or no access to treatment, and that’s what we’re on a mission to change.

Fortunately, treatment is low-cost and relatively non-invasive: a series of plaster casts, a quick outpatient procedure to release the Achilles tendon, and a foot abduction brace worn at night for several years work for 95% of children born with the condition. With this straightforward treatment—called the Ponseti method—and such a high success rate, clubfoot disability is a problem we can solve in our lifetimes.

Bringing Equity to Clubfoot Treatment

MiracleFeet now works with partners in 27 countries to address this common cause of physical disability, but it was only a few decades ago that this work would have been impossible. Today, the mothers who bring their children to the 185 clinics we support know they are getting the same treatment that children from around the world will receive.

For children like Maycol, Majaliwa, and Rizen, it means a chance at integrating into their community, receiving an education, and celebrating milestones with their peers.

But it all began with their mothers.

Mothers know that whether their child is born in the United States or Uganda, in a thatched-roof hut or in a hospital, they deserve the chance to walk, run, play, and live a healthy and pain-free childhood. So they ride a train 600 km to the hospital, hold their child on the back of a bicycle for a 55 km trip through the bush, endure taunts from neighbors, and face teasing from strangers so that their child can take her first steps.

To the moms everywhere who believe in the promise of their children’s futures, who extend their generous support to other mothers, and who share the vision of a world where all children are afforded opportunities for a healthy future, Happy Mother’s Day.