Thwol embroidering a patchwork with beads | © E. Sellers / HI
Thwol, 60, had to have her leg amputated after diabetes-related complications set in. In Kenya, HI provides her with rehabilitation sessions, a prosthesis and psychosocial support.
Thanks to HI, Thwol is able to walk again and earn a living by decorating fabric with beads.
Thwol was living in the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya when her right foot started to swell due to complications from diabetes. HI’s specialists referred her to hospital where her leg was amputated below the knee.
When Thwol arrived in Kakuma, the HI team immediately equipped her with new crutches and then a prosthetic leg.
"HI is the only organisation in the camp that provides prostheses," explains Andrew Mwangi, HI's orthoprosthetist.
"We start by giving people crutches so they can walk and strengthen the muscles in the affected limbs," explains Andrew. “Then they are fitted with a prosthetic leg and practice walking with it.”
Thwol spends her days sewing beads onto fabric. This is called beading. She learnt this craft in Ethiopia, her home country, which she left more than ten years ago.
“Beading is part of my culture”, explains Thwol.
She makes fabric decorated with beads. She counts each line, selects the right bead from a small box beside her, threads it with a needle and delicately sews it onto the fabric she is working on. She finds the repetition and the creativity therapeutic.
Thwol enjoys beading and teaching this craft to other women. It has given her a way to connect with her neighbours and earn an income.
“My life has changed with HI’s help. Before, I couldn’t walk and now I can go the market and to church,” she says, happily.
Thanks to her prosthesis, Thwol now feels independent. And thanks to the counselling provided by HI's psychosocial support team, she has learnt the importance of channelling her energy into a productive activity, such as her beadwork.