“She Walks Like a Goat”

Elizabeth loved her photo taken, so it would only be fitting to start her story with one of her favorite photos taken of herself during the interview.

Elizabeth is 22 years old and walks on all four of her limbs.

The people around Goma say she is a woman who “walks like a goat”.

Elizabeth is greeted by Katembo and Dr. Jo.
Elizabeth, demonstrating how she moves around day-to-day.

As a young child, Elizabeth contracted polio. For years she managed to move around with a metal insert beneath one of her feet to help balance and alignment. After being raped she chose to raise and have her baby at age 19. One day as she was multi-tasking between caring for the baby and cooking doughnuts to sell, she accidentally tipped the boiling pot of oil on her good leg. With the help of her family, she was able to obtain treatment for her burn. But instead of getting better, it deteriorated and infection set in. Eventually, she was left with no choice but to amputate her burned leg.

Elizabeth came accompanied by her friend, Francesca (name changed), who happens to live in the same neighborhood as Elizabeth. Despite having to care for her own family, she came to be with Elizabeth, ignoring the ridicule from others in the community for attending to her “cursed” friend. She visits Elizabeth at her home every week to make sure she is okay. When asked why she would sacrifice her reputation and critical time to support her own family: “Elizabeth is strong and kind. She is funny, she makes me laugh too much! When I come to her she makes me feel happy and inspired. If don’t come to care for her, she has no one.”
“We will make her so she is a woman again.” -Dr. Jo
Elizabeth, post-surgery. She will go back to her village and return to be fitted for prosthetics.

When Elizabeth arrived in Goma for orthopedic care, she was not a new patient to HEAL Africa. She had received fistula treatment (resulted from when she was raped) during one of HEAL Africa’s fistula outreach projects in her town. Upon seeing her move on all four limbs, the staff referred her to HEAL Africa’s Goma location, where she would receive more specialized care for her ambulatory needs.

Months later, she is greeted by orthopedic staff and Dr. Jo Lusi, an orthopedic surgeon who has spent much of his career raising the dignity of women in Congo.

We think it’s providential too.