As I write this, Juliana Mejia, an outgoing 12-year old with a bright smile and beautiful voice, is at Mahavir Kmina to receive her new prosthetic leg.
Some of you met Juliana in person at our December 4th event at Tarambana restaurant (photos). Together, we raised $250 that night, which combined with online donations of $1,150, brings our total to $1,400.
Better still, there are benefactors who match every dollar raised for Mahavir Kmina, therefore the $1,400 raised so far by Medellín Living’s readers will actually result in donations of $2,800.
And there’s still almost two full weeks left for us to raise even more! If you haven’t donated yet, please consider doing so via our GlobalGiving page.
Visiting Mahavir Kmina
Yesterday, I spent the morning at Mahavir Kmina in La Estrella learning more about the organization’s unique and life-changing work. I was accompanied by Camila Urbina of Makaia, who acts as a public liaison for Mahavir Kmina.
Walking past the reception desk and waiting area, where several young men with missing legs were awaiting new prosthetics, you enter the physical rehab area, where they will soon take their first steps.
From there, we proceeded to the upper level where we met Jhon Jairo Tobón, Mahavir Kmina’s Technical Director.
Mahavir Kmina was founded in March 2007 by a Colombian music executive who had experienced an ankle injury, which led him to reflect on the challenges faced by those without lower limbs.
Jhon, an engineer by trade, was working for him at the time and became involved in setting up Mahavir Kmina, which required a trip to India to learn more about the Jaipur foot.
Upon seeing the process used in India to fit people with missing legs and feet, Jhon felt there was room for improvement, and developed an improved process at Mahavir Kmina using lasers to ensure more precise measurements and fittings.
Making a Difference, One Person at a Time
Since 2007, Mahavir Kmina has provided over 3,000 free prosthetic limbs to those in need from around Colombia. An average day involves fitting five or six patients.
They help everyone who walks through their doors, as long as they are healthy enough to use the prosthetics.
Whether the person comes from wealth or poverty makes no difference. The youngest person was just two years of age, the oldest a 90-year-old great-grandmother from Copacabana.
During my visit, I learned quickly that every “thank you” message on the wall and every old prosthetic limb left behind has a story to tell.
The colorful message above was written by Abner, a boy who was born without feet or hands. Watching a video of him being able to not only walk for the first time, but eventually play soccer and basketball with friends, was incredible.
Luis Soriano lives on the Colombian coast and has delivered books to children in remote, rural areas via donkey for over 10 years.
His project is called Biblioburro, a play on biblioteca (library) and burro (donkey) and in 2010, he was featured on CNN Heroes.
After a fall from one of his donkeys, he needed to have his left leg amputated. He is thankful for Mahavir Kmina as their help in providing a free prosthetic allows him to continue his work bringing books to children.
The more stories I heard, the more videos Jhon showed us from the YouTube channel, the more my eyes teared up.
There’s a lot of cynicism out there when it comes to charities and fundraising, but after my visit to Mahavir Kmina where I saw a gentleman from Bogotá walk on a prosthesis for the first time since he lost a leg 15 year ago, I can confidently say their work and our donations are changing people’s lives in the most profound ways possible.
We’re all one car accident away from a missing limb, a scary reality most of us would rather not think about.
Knowing there are organizations like Mahavir Kmina providing free prosthetics to those in need is both inspiring and heartwarming. The only factor limiting their ability to help more people is money.
Please donate today and let’s help them continue to make a difference.
PS – Mahavir Kmina is working on creating an educational space out of a large room on their second floor. I’ll keep you posted as to when it’s finished and open to visitors.