Boy, 14, given chance to walk again after vital medical intervention

A 14-year-old boy who was living on the streets is now able to walk, dance and play with his friends following a motorbike crash which left him with a serious leg injury.

Ali, who was born and raised in Jimma Zone, south-west Ethiopia, was trying to learn how to drive when the incident happened in 2018.

At the time, Ali was living with a neighbour who had brought him up as his own child after his parents both remarried and disowned him.

Zemetegela Mulugeta, Project Manager at Hope for Justice, said: “Ali’s whole community tried to raise money for his treatment but the damage was so severe that no one was able to help him. The medical assessments, medication and consultations cost the kind-hearted neighbour his savings.

“Ali decided he could not continue to live off this man’s goodness, so he left his home and went to the streets of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to try and earn money by begging.

“It was in late 2019 that our outreach workers found him on the streets. He had been there for about one year.”

Ali initially visited the walk-in clinic based at Hope for Justice’s Canaan Lighthouse, an aftercare facility for children at risk of exploitation, in Addis Ababa, for a general medical assessment, and was then enrolled at the centre.

When he arrived, he was using crutches and could not walk unaided. It had been about 18 months since his accident.

“His injury made it really difficult for Ali to engage in activities,” Zemetegela said. “He would sit down and watch his friends play in the park but he couldn’t join in. When he got into bed he had to lift his leg with his hands.”

Hope for Justice arranged for an orthopedic surgeon to assess his injury. During the appointment, Ali had an X-ray and tests which confirmed he had damaged ligaments. He was recommended physiotherapy to help restore movement in his legs and began attending a clinic three times each week. Over time, Ali’s legs began to heal, and he was able to move around on one crutch.

Ali also attended Teklehaimanot General Hospital in Addis Ababa where he was seen by a neurologist after it was identified that he had sustained nerve damage, which was causing him to lose balance while walking.

Ali said: “I have now finished my medication and can walk again. I can play and dance with my friends, take part in sports and activities. I am very healthy again. I feel hopeful, very happy and thankful for everything that Hope for Justice has done for me.”

During his stay at the Lighthouse, Ali took part in small business training and development to equip him to set up and manage his own small enterprise.

Ali was reintegrated back into his community prior to the lockdown.

Zemetegela said: “At a recent follow-up assessment, we found that Ali was continuing to engage in an income generating activity. He was enjoying his work, his home life and being back in contact with his community. We are delighted that he is doing very well.”

*Name changed to protect identity of victim