Originally posted on my earlier blog on June 19th, 2015.
There is a place in Yaounde that has many names, but the general idea is that is a hospital for homeless handicapped orphans. It also has its own school, a factory, and a few other things. It is one of my favorite places in Cameroon and is also in a really nice location on the top of a hill that looks out over the capital city.
The community is extremely interesting because they make prosthetics out of trash and then sell them to make money to help support the community of people who live there. I took many pictures of the stuff that they made because a lot of it was really nice, even though it was made out of old gas cans and scrap metal that people threw away. Here’s the machine room.
This gentleman gave me the tour of the factory space. Its not especially big, but they have a simple assembly line set up. This is the station where the shoes are attached to the part that attached to the lower limbs. These can be attached to either forearms or lower limbs.
The shoe attached.
Some of the most impressive craftsmanship came from the plastic prosthetics. The plastic comes entirely from plastic gas cans that people threw away because they had holes in them. Gas cans are made out of a perfect type of plastic that is strong and is a good thickness. Conveniently, some pieces are almost exactly the width of a human leg, so only a little bit of molding has to be done to the plastic.
They do have to buy some things, like velcro, but their expenses are extremely small.
The back-brace was made from a single piece of flat scrap metal. The straps were custom sewn from nylon. Apparently sewing/knitting with nylon is not very different from other materials.
Some things are also made out of wood. Wood here is extremely high quality. This was just a random log that one of the guys thought was similar to the size of a lower leg.
People make braces too.
Andre is one of the coolest kids in the world. His legs and left hand don’t work too well. And he can’t talk, but he might make a great prosthetic limb machinist one day.
He wears long-sleeved shirts so that he doesn’t cut himself on the sides of his wheel-chair.
This is the sort of project that I am interested in starting. The place is a community with people of all ages. It is not actually self-sustaining, since it receives supplemental funding from the government, but I think that with only a few modifications, it would be possible for the entire hospital to break free from external funding. I care about starting social projects that would be self-sustaining after I leave them. This gives more freedom in how money is spent inside an organization and allows the community to take ownership of their own work.
Also, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to find funding for a place called “Hospital for Homeless Handicapped Orphans”. The name basically sells itself, and even a small amount of support to purchase a few manufacturing machines could create many life-changing opportunities.