Today, Elizabeth's Legacy of Hope (ELoH) supports 41 child amputees in Liberia and 147 in Sierra Leone. Having gained a deep understanding of the complex issues child amputees face due to the traumatic personal experience of the Hope family, ELoH has developed a project that responds to the medical, educational and psychosocial needs of child amputees.
The project aims to deliver ELoH's five main objectives:
Access to mobility
Access to education
Access to counselling
Building sustainable futures
Fighting against stigma
Why Sierra Leone?
Sierra Leone is home to ELoH's largest project due to the immense need for support:
Sadly, child amputees are often seen out of school and are begging on the streets. Child amputees are a particularly common phenomenon, since amputations were used indiscriminately by rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war which ended in 2002. To terrorise and intimidate the civilian population, arms, legs, lips, noses and ears of children as young as six months old were amputated.
Sierra Leone is particularly ill-equipped to address the problem without help: though the country has been on the road to recovery since the civil war ended in 2002, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world and ranks among the ten least developed countries globally, according to the Human Development Index.
The country has also been badly affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which has put an incredible strain on an already weak health infrastructure.
Liberia is among the 15 least developed countries in the world according to the Human Development Index and continues to struggle with its post-war recovery. There exists no accurate data on the number of child amputees. The fact that there is no reliable information available is a clear sign of how sadly neglected child amputees’ problems are: there is only limited statutory support available for those suffering from amputation.
A 1997 survey sponsored by UNICEF found that more than 16% of the Liberian population lives with a disability, the majority of those being physically disabled. Today, it is estimated that these numbers have grown due to the country’s civil war.
Despite this, there is no organisation in Liberia working particularly with child amputees. However, an assessment carried out by ELoH and Street Child in June 2012 identified that there was substantial need to address this issue, as child amputees are currently among the most marginalised in a society struggling with endemic poverty. They often end up in orphanages or on the streets, where they are at a great risk of violence and exploitation.