Taking Her Skill To Tanzania (Daily Sentinel)

May 8, 2012

Sherrie Anderson is in the business of helping people. But she’ll soon be taking her expertise in prosthetics and orthotics one step further in helping others and many miles farther away.With a degree and certification in prosthetics and orthotics, Anderson’s taking her work from her office on University Drive in Nacogdoches around the globe to help amputees in less developed countries. This summer, she and her husband, Eddy, and their mission — Step by Step Prosthetic Mission — will collaborate with e3 Partners Ministry “to share two things that are very dear to us,” Anderson writes on her website at www.stepbystepmissions.com, “ … the life-changing message of Christianity and our passion to help people through prosthetic rehabilitation.”

In June, the couple will join e3 Partners in traveling to various regions of Tanzania to identify and help people with albinism who have suffered amputation at the hands of people selling the severed limbs for use in potions of witch doctors. It was her earlier work in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010 where she volunteered with a rehabilitation team that led to the creation of Step by Step Prosthetic Missions.

“That kind of spurred on my desire to help people in third-world countries,” she said on a recent morning from her clinic at Professional Prosthetic Care. “At about that same time was when the albinos who were being attacked during the night were in the news. The two happening at the same time made me think that maybe I could help in some way in Tanzania.”

This recent project come together through her husband’s uncle, who is a retired college professor and one of the founders of e3 Partners. “At Christmas, I just asked him if he thought it would be something that would be doable and safe to go,” she said. “And about three weeks later, I got an email that said ‘you can go in June. “So now, we’re pretty much on the fast track to make this happen,” she said.

“Since 1987, e3 Partners has brought a unique, biblically-based approach to world missions that has produced significant results in cultures around the world,” according to the website at www.e3partners.org/. “The focus is church multiplication, incorporating all the key elements of Christ’s commission of going, making disciples, teaching and baptizing in order to plant and grow new churches.”

The medical component of e3 Partners works closely with the hospitals and clinics in Tanzania. Step by Step’s mission is to provide “prosthetic services to people in Africa who are living with an amputation, while introducing them to the story of Christ,” the website says. “We provide custom artificial limbs, as well as assistive devices, to improve mobility.” Anderson initially pursued a career in physical therapy, but by working in a physical therapy clinic while in college, she came in contact with prosthetics and orthotics. “And that was better suited to me,” she said. “I’m pretty mechanically inclined and three dimensional in my thinking, and you certainly use those skills in prosthetics and orthotics. And I found it interesting.”

Fundraising will take place over the next several months to help fund the Tanzania trips, but more importantly help cover the costs of fabricating the prostheses once they return with the casts they will make on their initial trip. Once those are made, Anderson and her husband, along with a physical therapist, will return for a two-week stay in August to fit the limbs and teach the amputees how to walk with their new limbs. The goal is to serve 30 amputees.

The most recent attack of an albino occurred last October in the Shinyanga Region, according to information on the Step by Step website.

A 15-year-old girl, Kulwa, had been attacked in the middle of the night by three masked men. Kulwa had been sleeping with another sibling in a shed near the main house. The three assailants managed to open the door without force and, knowing exactly where Kulwa was sleeping, used a machete to sever her arm above the elbow. In response to her screaming, her father came out of the main house but was immediately attacked by one of the masked men. The mother also tried to rescue Kulwa but it was too late. She saw the men disappearing with her daughter’s arm wrapped in one of the men’s coats. At the time of this report, Kulwa was still in Kahama District Hospital with her father.

In addition to 82 reported similar attacks in Tanzania, there have also been 12 grave robberies. In 2011, there were also two failed grave robbery attempts. Anderson’s relying on her faith to keep her calm and safe, and to face the realities of what she will likely deal with in Tanzania. “I’m just putting myself in the hands of e3 Partners and God, and I don’t feel scared at all,” she said.


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