Inspirational Women Stories from Pakistan

Helping People Get Back on Their Feet

Farzana Yaseen from Karachi is the first woman in Karachi, Pakistan to make prosthetic legs professionally. She has given hundreds of people a new lease of life through her work. Know more about the woman who is transforming lives.

Afsha, a 15-year-old girl from Karachi met with a bus accident three years ago and lost one of her legs during that horrific incident.

The accident left this little girl bed-ridden and affected her life tremendously. This is when someone advised her to go for a prosthetic leg. Her father brought her to the Artificial Limb Center, Karachi, where she found not just a new artificial foot but also a new zeal for life.

Afsha met Farzana Yaseen, a 31-year-old technician at ALC who crafted an artificial foot fit for Afsha’s tiny and fragile legs.

Afsha with Farzana | Photo: Shreya Pareek

“I went to other doctors earlier who fixed an artificial limb, but I always felt a discomfort. Meeting Farzana has been really helpful for me,” said Afsha while she waited for a new foot that Farzana was crafting for her.

As soon as Farzana entered the room, Afsha’s face lit up and she smiled ear to ear while a new foot was being fixed to her amputated leg.

Farzana then moved on to tend to the other patients who had lined up in her office. One by one she took care of all the patients. Her face showed a sense of content as she saw people of all ages stand up and walk a few meters with the help of their new prosthetic legs.

Farzana Yaseen at the Artificial Limb Center. | Photo: Shreya Pareek

“It gives me so much satisfaction to see that my work is adding value to someone’s life. It is so fulfilling,” Farzana said.

Farzana first came to the Artificial Limb Center, Rotary Club, Karachi as a technician in 2008. Her brother told her about the center and she became part of it since its inception. That time, she didn’t have any experience in creating artificial limbs, in fact, it was her first job ever. But she was determined to learn and excel in the profession.

“I was really scared at first. It was the first time I had stepped out of my house and taken up a job. But gradually, I conquered my fears. Today, I love my work so much that I don’t even want to take an off,” she said.

Farzana trains other people also to create prosthetic legs.| Photo: Shreya Pareek

She underwent rigorous training conducted by a team from India in crafting the “Jaipur Foot”. After the training, she became the first woman in Karachi to make artificial limbs professionally.

She put her knowledge to the best use and went to Iraq in 2010 to train and treat patients there. In one month of her stay, Farzana and her team managed to make and fit over 1,000 artificial limbs for those in need in an entirely new country.

“It was a great learning experience. I faced a lot of challenges due to the language barrier, long working hours, and hectic schedule. It was the first time I was traveling outside Pakistan. But I am glad I got an opportunity to get an experience like that,” Farzana said.

She treats about 10patients every day. |Photo: Shreya Pareek

Today, Farzana handles 10-12 cases every day. The majority of patients she handles come from rural parts of Pakistan.

“Today, my heart breaks when I see so many children facing such problems in life. Many of the cases I get are of children who have a disability due to Polio, flat foot, etc,” said Farzana.

She recalls a case of two brothers who came to her a few years ago. They didn’t have any growth in their legs since childhood. She worked on creating artificial limbs for both of them multiple times. Today, the boys have grown up and manage to stand up on their artificial feet. The case is particularly close to Farzana’s heart as she saw them grow up since their childhood.

The Centre has people visiting from all parts of Pakistan. |Photo: Shreya Pareek

She trains other technicians and handles a team of eight people. In the future, Farzana wants to continue working in this field and help many more people stand back on their feet.

“Many girls come here to learn the work. But they quit in a few days because the work is difficult and different. I wish there were more women in this field,” Farzana said.

To know more about the Artificial Limb Center, Rotary Club, Karachi, check out their website.

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About the author

Shreya Pareek