Perpétue Zongo, 10 years old, on her way to school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. | © N. Lawson / HI
In Burkina Faso, Perpétue has rediscovered the pleasure of going to school and the joys of walking with her friends, thanks to the prosthesis she received with HI's support.
Perpétue Zongo is a 10-year-old girl in year 5 at school. She lives with her paternal grandfather, mother, younger sister and father in a district of Ouagadougou. Following an accident, HI helped her to obtain a prosthesis that allows her to run and play again as she used to.
In 2021, a sad event turned Perpétue's life upside down. She was playing in front of her house with local friends when a tricycle hurtled up the road at high speed in the direction of a little girl. Perpétue saw that the little girl was in danger and rushed to her rescue. Her act of bravery saved the little girl’s life... but she was hit by the tricycle herself.
When she arrived at hospital, the verdict dropped: the accident had been too violent and her leg had to be amputated. It was a very difficult decision for her parents to take. But Perpétue has never let it get her down.
"Perpétue is a very brave girl," says her mother. "She's the one who comforts us and she has given us the strength to go on since the accident."
As soon as she felt better, Perpétue wanted to go back to school. She had always got very good marks and loved going to class. She returned to school just two weeks after her operation, with the surgical stitches needed to heal the amputation still in place. And despite the accident and its traumatic consequences, Perpétue finished in the top three in her class again that year.
To be more independent, Perpétue needed a prosthesis, but her parents couldn’t afford one. The young girl didn't give up and began learning how to live without her leg. Her family supported her and helped her a lot, especially on the hard days. She needed help with certain daily tasks that she was used to doing on her own.
"I had crutches, but I couldn't walk with them for long because they hurt. Dad took me to school and Mum showered me - I used to be able to do all those things myself," she says.
A few months after her accident, Perpétue was identified by HI through a fortunate coincidence. She was standing on her doorstep when a member of HI's team passed by. Touched by this little girl, he contacted her parents. With HI's financial support, Perpétue quickly obtained a prosthesis and began attending rehabilitation sessions, thanks to which she learned to walk again.
"The prosthesis is helping me to have a better life; it looks just like my other leg. Despite being teased by some of my classmates, I'm happy to be able to walk like I used to and play with my friends again," she says happily.
Soon, Perpétue will need a new prosthesis because, after two years, she is outgrowing the one she has now. HI's teams are taking care of her follow up, and HI will cover the expenses.
In September 2022, Perpétue changed schools. Her old classmates had been made aware of her disability, but the new ones hadn't, and they are teasing her and making fun of her. This has affected her concentration and her grades are slipping. But Perpétue is determined not to give up and to continue working hard at school because she wants to be a nurse when she grows up, so that she can help others. To help her fulfil her dreams, HI is planning to run disability awareness campaigns in her new school, so that the other children understand and accept her difference.
This project, supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), began in Burkina Faso in 2022. It will run until 2025. HI conducts disability awareness sessions, improves the accessibility of schools, supports people with disabilities through vocational training, organises advocacy activities and provides schools with teaching materials. In 2022, more than 10,600 children with disabilities were enrolled in partner schools. HI also provides rehabilitation sessions and supplies mobility aids: three femoral prostheses were supplied in 2022, as well as 10 tricycles.