Two Sisters, One Treatment, a Family’s Future Transformed

December 14, 2021

Sisters Nakato and Whitney are three years apart, both born in Entebbe, a lush city in central Uganda near Lake Victoria. When Nakato, now nine years old, was born with clubfoot, her parents John and Betty were unfamiliar with the condition and didn’t know if or how it could be treated. Their anxiety and feelings of guilt escalated when their youngest daughter Whitney was also born with clubfoot.

Betty felt it was somehow her fault and wondered “what’s wrong with me?” John blamed himself for not having funds to pay for expensive treatment.

For caregivers and families, disability takes a social and economic toll. Mothers especially may be blamed or feel stigma for their child’s condition.

Sisters in Uganda Running Free

Their doubt and self-blame turned to relief when, after Whitney was born, they heard about a local clinic providing clubfoot care at no cost to families. John and Betty took both girls to the CoRSU hospital, run by MiracleFeet’s partner in Uganda, where each began the Ponseti method—a non-surgical and inexpensive process involving a series of plaster casts followed by a foot abduction brace to maintain the correction.

Together Nakato and Whitney began treatment. It’s an experience they shared that will forever bind them—and one that changed the trajectory of their lives.

Clubfoot is less common in girls (about twice as many boys are born with it each year), but left untreated, girls and women living with its disability bear disproportionate social and economic costs. They are much less likely to go to school, have jobs, or participate in community life.

So for a family with two daughters facing lifelong disability, the benefits of finding treatment are profound. Today both sisters are thriving. They have a love of learning and, in fact, Nakato is at the top of her class.

John and Betty proudly describe Whitney as “the stubborn one,” and it’s clear they see her willfulness as a characteristic that will serve her well in life. “She’s our little fighter!” John says with a pleased smile. “Even when she wore braces, she insisted on running around!” Both parents laugh at the memory.

The girls also love dancing and playing. “They dance so much now that I get worried they’ll hurt their feet,” John jokes.

There are more than 2,280 new cases of clubfoot each year in Uganda, and MiracleFeet supports treatment at 24 clinics in the country. Most clinics are in regional government hospitals and are supported in part by the Ministry of Health, which provides the facility space and the staff, and by MiracleFeet which provides clinical training, data and performance monitoring, and treatment supplies. Uganda was the first country in the world to start a national clubfoot program and the advocacy and training efforts of MiracleFeet’s regional partner, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services Uganda (CoRSU), are the foundation of our global work today.

The results of an external evaluation of MiracleFeet’s partnerships in nine countries, including Uganda, affirm the extreme efficacy of the Ponseti method and the life-changing impact that proper clubfoot treatment has on children and their families. In fact, 97% of families say their child’s quality of life improved after treatment.

“Clubfoot treatment changed their future” says John with a look of what can only be described as profound joy.

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A $500 treatment

ensures children born with this common birth defect are attending school, playing with friends, and pursuing their dreams.