HelpAge Ethiopia works with its local partner TESFA to provide older people with livelihood assistance and home-based care. Fikru is one such older person assisted through the program in Ketema, a sub-city of Addis Ababa. Helpage and TESFA matched Fikru with Yehualashet, his home-based caregiver, and provided him with a crutch. Before, Fikru was unable to go outside his house. Through Yehualashet’s help and his crutch, he has now regained some mobility and, in turn, his dignity.
Photo Credit: Lydia Humprey / Age International
How do you earn a living?
It is difficult for me to work. I can barely walk short distances! My wife works as a security guard. It is because of her that we have food on the table.
What healthcare problems do you have?
My hand is so stiff that I can’t pick anything up. If I tried to pick up the book on this table, it would fall on the floor. I can’t even pick up a book! My legs don’t work properly – they hurt. It is very difficult for me to walk. I can’t even go to the toilet by myself.
What happened to your legs?
Three years ago, I had an accident. I was walking and suddenly, I fell over. I couldn’t move my legs. I don’t know why this happened to me. Maybe it was related to my high blood pressure, but I don’t know.
What did you do for a living before you had this accident?
Before, I used to be a driver. I would drive all over Ethiopia. It is so painful to think about how my life used to be! When I think about what happened to me, I become so depressed. But, I feel really lucky to have your support.
What support have you received?
They gave me cash assistance of 300 Birr (about $11 USD), which my wife and I used to buy food. But more importantly, they brought me Yehualashet who comes to visit and helps me. She brings me food and looks after me. She changed everything for me. She helped bring my life back. Thanks to her, I can go outside again! I was bedridden for three years. But now, I can walk again.
Fikru can walk short distances with the support of his home-based caregiver, Yehualashet
Do you have any other healthcare problems?
The day before yesterday, I went to the hospital to get my eyes tested. I have cataracts. I can see, but I can’t see very long distances now. I have to wait 6 to 12 months before I can have the operation because I am still in the very early stages of developing cataracts.
What has been the most helpful support we have given you?
This crutch. I know that Yehualashet and TESFA worked really hard to get this crutch for me for free. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to walk at all. I can’t stand up without it. I’m so grateful for my wife, Yehualashet—for your help—and to everyone who supports me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
What are you hopes for the future?
I don’t know about the future. I don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. Or, how today will go. I’m nearing the end of my life. But I want to be healthy—I want to walk and to work!