RPCV Helps Liberian Teen Get Medical Treatment
By Sarah Kana on Thursday, August 30th, 2012
For many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) our commitment to our host country never ends. Here’s an inspiring story about an RPCV who is continuing to make a difference.
During a return visit to Liberia in 2008, former Peace Corps Volunteer, Brian Richardson, who volunteered there from 1964 to 1966, traveled with friends to Nimba County, Liberia. At a very small and remote settlement, Duopu Village, located five miles north of the town of Tappita, Richardson noted one of the children, a girl in her early teens who was crippled. Her name was Diaworseh Duopu. Diaworseh could walk only by the aid of a pole about her height. She walked on the side of her left foot, and on her right foot, she walked on the extreme tops of her toes.
During the following year, Brian and his wife, Marsha, both of Winterport, Maine, followed up on Diaworseh. They made arrangements with a Massachusetts General Hospital pediatrician, Dr. Brett Nelson, M.D. (who was then assisting at the JFK Hospital in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia), to examine Diaworseh. She had never seen a physician before that time… Dr. Nelson. His diagnosis is that she has cerebral palsy.
Massachusetts General agreed to perform surgery and to treat her at their location in Boston. While full recovery is not likely, surgery and physical therapy provide improved ability to walk, increased mobility, and ability to lead a more full life.
With her parents’ agreement, the country of Liberia has granted the Richardsons temporary legal guardianship to look after Diaworseh’s best interests and to make needed medical decisions during her stay and to make arrangement for her safe return to her home in Liberia.
The Richardsons and friends in Liberia, Harry T. Yuan and his wife, Mai Quipu Yuan, arranged visas, a passport, a matron to accompany Diaworseh to the US, and housing in a Boston-area home. They made living arrangements, and in-country transportation with a Liberian family that speaks Diaworseh’s language.
After several surgeries and extensive physical therapy (and about a year spent in the US), Diaworseh can now walk on her own, without the aid of her stick or crutches.
Earlier this summer, Diaworseh was returned to her family in a large ceremony in Duopu Village that included dancing, singing, speeches, and hugs. Diaworseh walked to the crowd’s applause. She gave a short but eloquent speech in English then sang a song in her native language, Geo, which translated says, “God has given me an unexpected blessing.”
To read more about Diaworseh’s inspiring journey, you can visit the website the Richardson’s set up for her, here: http://www.helpliberianteen.com/index.html