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Emergency relief case study (4)

Ferasat walks tall for the first time


When the 7.6 magnitude Kashmir earthquake struck on 8 October 2005 and devastated large areas of northern Pakistan, seven-year-old Ferasat* was unable to quickly escape from his family home in Bagh. Since his birth, Ferasat suffers from deformities to both of his hips, knees and feet, and had never been able to walk. Ferasat was pulled out of the rubble that had once been his home by neighbours, who were unfortunately unable to save the boy’s parents and three of his nine siblings.


Boy at SOS Emergency Relief Shelter, Rawalpindi, Pakistan Together with his grandmother and six siblings, Ferasat was among the first survivors to arrive at the emergency relief shelter of the SOS Children’s Village at Rawalpindi. He is a lively child and immediately began investigating the premises by crawling around on his hands and knees.


Although his grandmother quoted doctor’s reports stating that Ferasat would never be able to walk, SOS Children insisted on getting a second opinion. On 20 November 2005, Ferasat and his grandmother and siblings were moved to the children’s village in Lahore, which is situated next to a hospital. In fact, SOS Children moved all quake-affected children requiring special or regular medical attention to its premises in Lahore.


A few days later, Ferasat underwent surgery which was provided free-of-cost by the Ittefaq Hospital Trust and his legs were straightened up to a 45 degrees angle. As doctors were unable to fully straighten his legs in the first operation, because too much stretching of the main blood vessels could have resulted in a loss of blood circulation to his lower limbs, further operations followed.


In February 2006, the day came when Ferasat was theoretically capable of standing up with the help of braces and crutches. But he was scared and caregivers of SOS Children Pakistan had to help him slowly gain his confidence. When he finally found the courage to stand up alone, Ferasat was stunned at his own feat. By March 2006 and following intensive physiotherapy, Ferasat is now walking all around the SOS Children’s Village at Lahore with his crutches. In a few months, he will be fitted into special braces and won’t be needing crutches.


When asked what he wished to do when freed of his crutches and braces, Ferasat said: “I want to walk to school with my brothers and sisters.”


*Names have been changed for privacy reasons


SOS Children’s long term aim is to give a million children around the world a family for life.