The 14-year-old boy whose legs were amputated after they were crashed by a Metro Mass Transit Limited (MMT) bus at Sofokrom in the Western Region, is not daunted by the predicament and has indicated his resolve to pursue his ambition of becoming a bank manager.
“I am not feeling sad now. I feel okay. I just want to have my artificial limbs and go back to school. My ambition is to become a bank manager, and I am still confident to become a bank manager,” Jacob Amissah, the Junior Secondary School (JSS) Two student of the Nana Kwesi Boadu JSS in Takoradi, told the Daily Graphic at the weekend.
Jacob was reportedly asleep on the veranda of his parent's home close to the road at Sofokrom on April 21, this year when a bus belonging to the MMT destroyed the wall separating the veranda from the road and crashed Jacob's legs in the process.
The bus, which reportedly brought the MMT workers from Takoradi, was said to be in the process of turning when it ran over the wall and caused injury to Jacob's legs.
Jacob's legs were amputated above the knees at the Trauma/Orthopaedic Unit of the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi, since, according to the hospital authorities, all the tissues and nerves below the knees were permanently destroyed.
The authorities of the Orthopaedic Training Centre (OTC) at Adoagyiri in Nsawam have since taken over the recuperation of Jacob and offered to give him artificial limbs and a wheelchair at no cost to facilitate his mobility.
When the Daily Graphic visited the centre last Friday afternoon, Jacob who was a wheelchair, was chatting with his friends, also amputees. The authorities of the OTC had taken the measurement of Jacob's thighs and were preparing artificial limbs for him.
The Director of the OTC, Brother Tarcisius de Ruyter, said the artificial limbs, estimated at more than ¢30 million, would be ready by tomorrow and fitted to Jacob's thighs by Friday.
He said Jacob would be given crutches to support his movement, and said he could stand and start walking gradually, adding that with time Jacob could learn to walk around without using the crutches.
Parts of the artificial limbs, which include the knee, ankle and hip joints, are imported while the rest, such as the polyester sockets, foam and leather decorations, are made by the 24 artisans and technicians at the centre.
Jacob, who smiled occasionally during the 30-minute interview, said initially he felt depressed at the loss of both legs and the fear of missing school and football.
When asked about his first impression when he found out that his legs were amputated after reviving from sleep-induced injection at the hospital, he said, “I felt bad that my legs were not there. I then started crying, and my mother, Auntie Ano, and my uncle, Richard Cobbina, who were by my side at the hospital, asked me to stop crying. They said I would be given another legs. Then I stopped crying.”
What he misses now is football and the Young Barcelona team at Sofokrom, where he was the central defender, and gave a broad smile when asked about his defensive abilities.
“We (the Young Barcelona) go to places to play matches. Sometimes we win and at other times we lose. But now I cannot play with them again,” he said soberly.
However, he said, his low spirit revived when he went to the OTC and found that other children and some adults also had either one leg or both legs amputated.
He said he had made friends with the other inmates, and mentioned Simon James as his close friend.“I do not feel sad again, because I have seen some other children with either one or two of their legs amputated,” he said.
There are 60 children and 20 adults at the centre. Some who had one leg or two legs or arms amputated as a result of accident or infection are using artificial limbs and crutches, while others with weak legs due to polio are using leg braces, orthopaedic shoes, callipers and hand splints.
Jacob is kept active by the education and training he receives in the house. He and the other children attend classes, computer lessons and are taught craft work and drumming.
According to the computer instructor and former inmate of the OTC, Mr Thomas-Anim Thomas, Jacob was a fast learner, and was picking up fast.
The Co-ordinator of the OTC, Sister Elizabeth Newman, said Jacob was adapting well to his new condition since he was brought to the centre two weeks ago.
She said when the artificial limbs were fixed above Jacob's knees, “he can go back to school and participate in community activities”.
Jacob thanked his mother, Auntie Ano, uncle, Richard Cobbina, the OTC and the Daily Graphic and all those who helped in diverse ways to bring his plight to the attention of the public.
Jacob is the sixth child of the seven children in his family. Jacob's father, Amissah, passed away some four years ago, and he and his siblings are being catered for by his uncle, Richard, a carpenter, and mother, a farmer at Sofokrom in the Western Region.
Story by Musah Yahaya Jafaru