Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO is planning to organise a camp in Ladakh next year to donate prosthetic legs, callipers, crutches, wheelchairs, and hearing aids to people with disabilities.
“If you visit one of our camps, you’ll witness the overwhelming joy in the air after someone who has been fitted with a prosthetic leg takes his or her first step. Some patients have not been able to walk in such a long time that they have forgotten how to walk. They need to be trained by physiotherapists to take each step. And their sheer happiness when they walk, is contagious,” say Rajiv Mehta, the trustee of Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust.
The Mumbai-based Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust was founded 25 years ago and has been working towards making people with disabilities independent. The NGO has set up a permanent centre for the disabled in Mumbai and conducts camps across India. Through its mobility project, the trust helps people with disabilities get back on their feet, both literally and figuratively.
It organises mobility camps where various aids like the Jaipur foot and crutches are distributed among underprivileged patients. The trust claims to have helped over 2.23 lakh people with disabilities so far.
Given that the challenges confronting people with disabilities residing in mountainous areas are crucial, the organisation has been conducting camps in Himalayan regions of Leh, Kargil, Srinagar, and Dharamshala too.
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“Each prosthetic leg needs to be customised according to the patient’s needs. The people residing in the mountains have to climb and walk on slopes as a part of their routine. Their requirements of prosthetic legs are unique,” says Mehta.
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The NGO recently won the Google Impact Challenge grant to develop the Ratna Nidhi Leg, a well-fitting artificial leg manufactured using 3D imaging, scanning, and printing technology. Ratna Nidhi joined hands with Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, for developing the 3D printed prosthetic leg.
“We have successfully designed and 3D printed the leg. We have now set up a manufacturing centre at Mahalakshmi in Mumbai. The next step is to experiment and test the new design. We will manufacture 200 prosthetic legs and distribute them to our patients who are currently using a regular prosthetic leg. This will help us understand the performance and comfort level of the new leg,” says Mehta.
Once the testing is done and the results are positive, the organisation will map out a production plan for the new legs. Meanwhile, they will keep distributing Jaipur foot and other aids.
Ratna Nidhi is now planning to provide prosthetic legs, callipers, hearing aids, and wheelchairs to over 400 disabled people in Ladakh and is currently running a fundraising campaign for the camp.
“The timeline for the Ladakh project is as follows: We will conduct the first camp in the first week of April at the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre (MIMC) in Leh, where our team will locate the patients. In the third week of April, the team will take measurements of the amputees and polio-affected patients. The prosthetic legs and callipers will then be manufactured and transported by May. The final camp will take place in the last week of June when the prosthetic legs and callipers will be fitted,” says Mehta.
“According to reports, about 2% of India’s population is disabled. There’s a lot more to do, what we are doing is minimal,” he concludes.