Helping people back on their feet

Life-changing surgery

This year, the Morija humanitarian and development organization is celebrating 40 years of assisting vulnerable populations mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Morija Association was begun in 1979 in the Valais with the goal of helping people in need in the poorest areas of the Sahel. It currently has programmes in Burkina Faso, Togo, Chad and Cameroon and runs nutrition, water-sanitation-hygiene, health, education and rural development projects.

The President of Morija, Gabriel Migy opened the evening and thanked all staff, guests and the host for their valuable support over the years.

“Morija has become an important player in the area of humanitarian and development work in the countries in which we have programmes, but particularly in Burkino Faso, where a lot of our work is focused…Tonight we will shine a light on one of our progammes, the Morija Medical and Surgical Centre (MSC) in Kaya, Burkina Faso and hear more from the programme director Benjamin Gasse and head surgeon Dominique Hügli”, said Migy.

Celebrating 40 years of helping vulnerable populations

Fondation KWACE President Shawne Fielding and Founder/Director Franca Price attended the 40 year anniversary celebration, which took place at the César Ritz Hotel School in Le Bouveret, Switzerland on 6 September.

“It’s an honour to celebrate with Morija, which supports similar projects to ours at Fondation KWACE, for education and young people with disabilities. We hope to join forces and work on some fundraising projects together to reach even more children in need”, said Fielding.

Good health is everything

In many parts of Africa, there is a great stigma around disability, which greatly affects the livelihood and quality of life of those afflicted.

“When disability is added to poverty, it becomes a drastic situation in which the disability is often viewed as a curse by families and is hidden or rejected. And there is little help available”, said Benjamin Gasse.

The Centre, which treats babies, children, adolescents and adults, is possible thanks to the dedicated staff at Morija who tirelessly raise funds and all those who work at the Centre.

“The Centre has become one of the best for functional rehabilitation in Burkino Faso and the largest for care requiring hospitalization. Every year more than 1000 patients suffering from a physical handicap are treated”, said Gasse.

The Centre’s main objective is to improve the mobility of people with disabilities through functional rehabilitations. Surgery and rehabilitation can correct deformities which impede children and adults from being able to walk, work and lead normal, independent, happy lives.

“In 2010 we further enhanced our services with the creation of as operation theatre and that is when Dr Dominique Hügli became involved and has been by our side now some 10 years”, said Gasse.

The number of patients keeps rising, but on average the Centre is able to rehabilitate at least 500 patients a year through physiotherapy, fit some 200 with prostheses, orthotics, discharge devices and custom-made splints as well as treat more than 125 patients with orthopaedic surgical operations.

Life-changing work

Dr Dominique Hügli, orthopaedic surgeon, who heads the Morija Medical and Surgical Centre (MSC) in Kaya, Burkina Faso, presented the incredible work he and his teams do to get people literally back on their feet.

It all began when Hügli read about Morija in an article in 2009 and got in touch to offer his expertise as a volunteer. He was involved in establishing the operating theatre and was able to bring the materials required from the Clinique de la Colline in Geneva. Since then he has made countless trips to perform numerous and varied surgeries.

“We mend deformed limbs, provide prostheses for missing limbs and help patients walk again, giving them a new lease of life”, said Hügli.

Many of the cases are caused by malnutrition, which makes patients more prone to infections. If infections reach growing bones, they can cause them to grow incorrectly into the deformations in the patients.

Celebrating in style

A group of highly motivated students from the Cézar Ritz Hotel School catered the event, which has held partly in the Anton Mossiman Museum, and the Hotel School restaurant. Guests were regaled to five-star service and a specially created menu, singers and dancers provided entertainment and a tombola managed to raise more funds on the night.

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