Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday
Published: Monday, 26th February 2018
He became an amputee after suffering an accident on duty, but now this police officer is back at work and thriving after receiving a 'life-changing' gift
He became an amputee after suffering an accident on duty – but now this police officer is back at work and thriving after receiving a 'life-changing' gift
Protecting the Public
Alieo Touray had always known what he wanted to do when he grew up.
‘I liked the job of being a police officer since I was a small boy because I was brought up by a police officer,’ says the 53-year-old. ‘So, I inherited it! I love being a police officer.’
But police are often on the front line, putting themselves in dangerous situations to protect the public – and when Alieo was on duty five years ago, he was run down by a car.
Unfortunately, in places like the Gambia, when such injuries do occur they are often poorly treated resulting in infection and, consequently, amputation.
Sadly, this is exactly what happened to Alieo.
After his amputation, Alieo’s worries were countless as he felt increasingly discouraged. Would he ever walk again? How would he provide for his wife and child? How differently would his colleagues now see him?
‘They would see me lower as an amputee, they would think me inactive, unable to do this and that and people would make assumptions,’ explains Alieo of the social stigma surrounding disability in the Gambia.
Alieo Touray lost his leg after a car accident
A Truly Life-Changing Gift
Alieo quickly learned that along with physical immobility came emotional isolation too: a lack of purpose, a lack of direction, and the lack of a fulfilling life.
But then, three years ago, Alieo came into contact with UK-based charity Legs4Africa who were able to provide him with what was to be a completely transformational gift: a prosthetic leg.
The costs involved and the insufficient quality of prosthetics found in Africa can be highly problematic for amputees in countries like the Gambia – which is why Legs4Africa source and recycle prosthetic limb components from UK hospitals and private donors.
‘It changed my life 100%, really, because I’m normal today,’ explains Alieo.
Alieo has wanted to be a police officer since he was a boy
‘Why? Because I have a leg to walk on again.'
From that moment, everything changed for Alieo. He returned to work in the police force, and even began to ride his motorcycle again, which he rides to this day.
‘Anything I was doing before, I still have the confidence that I can still do it – or even do more than that. I’m very much happy.’
"My message to all amputees is to have faith, and to try and get in touch with Legs4Africa, who have been great for all amputees throughout Africa."
- Alieo Touray
A Local Inspiration
Now, nothing can hold Alieo back. Being back on two feet even inspired him to begin work on an ambitious dream of his: building a house from the ground up for his family.
‘It’s not yet completed, but I’m still there trying to finish it,’ says Alieo, who admits building a home is indeed a much harder feat with a prosthetic leg. ‘But, I am very much determined.’
If that wasn’t enough, Alieo also volunteers as Public Relations Officer at the Gambian Amputee Association, which Legs4Africa helped to form in order to tackle the little practical and emotional support for amputees in sub-Saharan Africa.
‘We formed this association in order to help ourselves and to look after ourselves through support from Legs4Africa – they are our motivators. People are registering all the time.’
The group now has over 100 members. Alieo, however, tells of plans to go on a country-wide tour to reach and support amputees who live in harder to reach, rural areas of the Gambia.
For Alieo, giving back to others in need is vital.
The inspirational Alieo works on the construction site of his new home
'Our Giant Heroes'
Legs4Africa itself was born out of one man’s desire to empower amputees across Africa.
After learning that thousands of recyclable prosthetic legs were thrown away as clinical waste in the UK each year, CEO Tom Williams founded the charity just four years ago – and soon enough, the charity was growing exponentially.
Over 4,000 legs have now been distributed by the charity, who welcome any used prosthetic legs from donors, no matter the condition.
‘For many of the amputees that we've been able to support, Alieo's story is a very humbling one as he visibly leads by example and maintains a positive outlook on life,’ says Tom Williams.
‘A prosthetic leg has a tremendous ability to change a life. It gives an amputee a chance to stand up, walk again and get back into work.
‘It really is incredibly rewarding. We're always looking for more prosthetic legs to recycle and funds to help us reach the hospitals that need them.’
"Just 1 in 10 people with physical disabilities in the developing world have access to assistive technology."
- World Health Organisation
Alieo’s is a clear story of success – not despite his misfortune and where he grew up, but because of it. Legs4Africa wish to continue helping people just like him.
As for Alieo, he has a special place in his heart for the charity. ‘I'd like to thank Legs4Africa. I call them our giant heroes.
‘I’m thanking all of the very good donors in the UK also, and praying for them to have long lives and much success. Thank you.’
The GAA gather for a meeting under some shelter
Legs4Africa are working tirelessly to reach more amputees just like Alieo. If you're able to help make a difference to somebody's life, please do give what you can to support their work today.
About this charity
What they do
Legs4Africa help provide a means of independent living for amputees in Africa by sourcing and recycling prosthetic limb components from UK hospitals and private donors, to help change lives. As well as giving amputees the wonder of walking again, Legs4Africa also offer much needed emotional support.