Real life: Best foot forward
Blessing Woifo from Cape Town is a happy one-year-old who recently started to stand. Despite being born with clubfoot, he is well on his way to walking, all thanks to the Ponseti method of casting, writes Lynn Williams
WHEN BLESSING WAS BORN, his parents – Flore and Simplice – were devastated to learn that he had been born with clubfoot.
Flore was especially sad because their firstborn, Nelson, had also been born with the same birth defect eight years ago in Cameroon. The last thing she wanted was for her second child to have the same birth defect.
Flore says the first eight months of Nelson’s life were stressful. The couple and their baby had to endure stares and were ridiculed by people in their village in Cameroon. “Some people told me to just make peace with it, because it was God’s will and that Nelson would never walk.”
Despite this, she still sought help for Nelson. Unsuccessful treatments included casts that repeatedly fell off and regular massages with a physical therapist. Nelson cried all the time and nothing helped.
Simplice gave up his job to help Flore take care of Nelson and to make sure that he went for regular treatment. When they moved back to her mother’s village they tried traditional medicine and splints were put on his legs to push his feet back into position. “This was so painful for him. All the casts and splints had damaged his feet,” says Flore.
When Nelson was eight months old, Flore was ready to give up, but then she heard about the Ponseti method. “After just four casts Nelson’s feet were straight and they put him into boots. He can now walk well, although he has a problem with one foot.”
When Nelson was 18 months old Flore moved to South Africa to pursue her studies, but when her plans fell through she turned her sights on becoming an entrepreneur. She now sells merchandise from her stand on the Grand Parade.
On 15 September 2016, little Blessing was born at the Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, via an emergency caesarian delivery. The first thing Flore asked Simplice was whether his feet were okay. “I just did not want to go through it again. I was scared,” Flore admits.
Simplice told Flore that Blessing’s feet were fine and wrapped him in a blanket. A few hours later he had to come clean and informed her that their second child
AFTER JUST FOUR CASTS NELSON’S FEET WERE STRAIGHT AND THEY PUT HIM INTO BOOTS. HE CAN NOW WALK WELL, ALTHOUGH HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH ONE FOOT
also had clubfoot.
This time around a doctor came in to see the couple to discuss their son’s condition. She told them not to worry and set up an appointment for Blessing at Steps Clubfoot Care. He visited the clinic for his first appointment when he was a month old.
“It was such a different experience this time around. I don’t recall ever feeling stressed. His feet were straight within a few weeks and he sleeps in his boots and bar at night.
“The doctors and the parent advisers at Steps are amazing. They explained the whole process and gave us plenty of information. We knew exactly what to expect,” Flore says.
Flore said the help she received at Steps gave her the courage to be a source of strength to another new mom who was worried and did not know what to expect at the time.
“Steps not only changed Blessing’s life for the better, but it gave us as parents huge peace of mind.
“Blessing is a happy and healthy boy who will be walking in no time!” Flore says. YB
Happy family: Simplice Woifo and his wife, Flore, with one-year-old Blessing
Winning team: The Steps team is committed to making a difference in the lives of children born with clubfoot