In a Remote Village, Witnessing Miracles

Jul 06, 2017 · 95 comments
Ami (Portland Oregon)
I was born completely turned in from the waste down. I'm still pigeon toed but thanks to the military hospital I was born in I wore casts for my first year that mostly straightened out my legs. We take for granted the many blessings of living in the developed world. Thanks for the reminder.
D. A. Smith (Grinnell, Iowa)
Ignacio Ponseti was a great Iowan and a great American. None of what Mr. Kristof writes about would have been done without Dr. Ponseti's pioneering work. We would do well to remember that he was an immigrant.
Gail (New York)
My friend's daughter was treated with the Ponsetta method, but her bones are too fragile. If Congress guts Medicaid, her daughter will not be able to continue with the advance leg braces or surgery. This is insane.
Randall Johnson (Seattle)
Thank you Nick Kristof.

Operation Smiles is a parallel program bring miracles to those with cleft pallets.
Rob S (New London, CT)
Thanks for the reminder. There is so much good in the world. Mostly below the political and media radar.
Sue Ringler (NYC)
In a year overwhelmed with our country's soulless
leadership and breathtaking narcissism thank you
for sharing the work of caring, talented people with heart who are creating miracles for others each day and transforming lives. You made my day!
Jane Taras Carlson (Story, WY)
That was a very good article.
Nancy fleming (Shaker Heights ohio)
End The aid that sends weapons ,aircraft, ammunition of all kinds
And send aid to children of all the country's that need it .Do it now! And keep the health care for US kids thru our Medicaid program no cuts,also the disabled
And all who need it!ALL WHO NEED IT.Tell the Republicans to stop their terror
Campaign.Their cruelty is unbelievable.
Ed (VA)
I don't anyone on the planet disagrees with this type of aid.
L (Chicago, IL)
This article brought tears to my eyes. During a complicated pregnancy, we found out our little girl would be born with bi lateral clubfoot. We were devastated, worried she wouldn't be able to walk or run like all the other kids. We researched and met with the wonderful Dr. Carl and team at Lurie's Clubfoot clinic, who use the Ponseti method. They put our minds at ease and we bucked down and got through the first several months of casting and braces after our daughter was born. It was difficult but once those casts came off I marveled at how perfect her feet were. When she was first born, I thought her turned-in feet were adorable but I was also shocked at how debilitating having two club feet for life would have been. Naive me, I thought how terrible it would have been "way back when," before such an effective treatment existed and how our baby would have been unable to get around on her own. I don't know how it didn't even occur to me that there were people around the world, today, who would not have access to such treatment. I'm smacking myself in the head. Thank you for writing the article and bringing attention to this issue. We will be making donations to Miracle Feet and will never stop being grateful for the medical professionals who make it possible for children like my daughter to walk, jump, and dance!
LM (Ontario, Canada)
Thank you for the good news and for your example.
CB (Charlotte NC)
I am curious what this same procedure costs in the US. Surely not $500 or even $5000.
Teresa Keller (California)
Both heartbreaking, that so many go through life with a disability that can be so easily corrected, and inspiring that so many of us are fortunate to have the ability to do something about it. If only we could join forces as one people with the goal of helping our fellow man. Thanks for inspiring me to do help someone today, Nicholas Kristof. I am so glad that you are on the planet and doing what you do.
R (Kansas)
This is amazing stuff. So much of what goes on in developing nations is based on superstition. When aid groups from developed countries help others in meaningful ways it makes us all better. How nice would it be for the industrialized world not to mess up its chance at leadership. I fear that the current administration will do just that.
Iver Thompson (Pasadena, Ca)
I don't doubt that anyone wants to see children born with club feet, or any other abnormality for that matter. It's tragic and heart-breaking, but happens nonetheless regardless of what our hearts feel. It would be nice if merely throwing money at everything bad would male them go away. If we could it might give the money we dedicate our lives to making some real value then. Somehow Adam Smith missed that.
jane stein (<br/>)
My son was born with 2 club feet. He was in casts for almost a year and then had surgery to release his Achilles tendons. It was a devastating time for us. He is now 50, a cardiologist and the father of three. I had no idea that this birth defect was hereditary. Wonderful that you reported on this. I plan to make a donation to Miracle Feet. Thank you.
Kristina (NC)
Hi, Jane! I work at MiracleFeet and on behalf of the whole team, thank you for your support!
Barbara (Conway, SC)
For $500 children can have normal lives, walking and running as they should. For a few dollars more, they can have clean water and vaccinations so that they can live to enjoy their normality.

Aid like this from the United States is priceless in developing allies while at the same time it economically helps individuals. The result is priceless.
Chris (CA)
I'm glad these kids can get the treatment they need. MiracleFeet sounds like a good program. I also think this op-ed is dangerously illogical, and I worry it will cause all sorts of misconceptions.
In his "dirty little secret" paragraph, Kristof raises a number of issues with foreign aid. I hoped he'd address them in a meaningful way. Instead, he ducks the issue by saying "helping people is complicated" and refers back to his heartwarming story. His argument:
1. In some cases, foreign aid achieves meaningful results
2. If a solution works in some cases, it should apply in all cases
3. Therefore, we should increase foreign aid
I'd actually be ok with this if I thought an unsuccessful or poorly-run aid program had no negative consequences. Based on what I saw in 2.5 years in Africa, though, that's not the case. As a Peace Corps Volunteer trying to effect meaningful and sustainable change, I found that most NGOs made our work harder. I saw that aid recipients became reliant on aid and believed themselves incapable of solving their own problems. They learned to wait for foreign NGOs to swoop in to help. What happens when the hand pump breaks? The villagers wait for another NGO to buy them another one.
I'm not saying that the cute little children with clubfoot should solve their own medical problems. But just as my point about bad foreign aid does not apply to them, their example should not be misused as an argument for all foreign aid.
More is not better. Only better is better.
Steve (SW Michigan)
Kristoff, you're cool! Not just for this, but for the fact you engage personally in these situations. How many folks in DC making policy and funding decisions have never set foot outside the comforts of their own circles? We need more like you.
John D (Indiana)
Great to hear these stories. Our son was born with a clubfoot in 2011, and thanks to amazing doctors in Cincinnati and the Ponseti method, no one would ever know. Another wonderful group is Clubfoot Shoe Exchange (, which my wife started in 2012 and has since been taken over by others who are doing amazing things. This organization provides a means for families to pass on used braces to others (both domestically and internationally) as their children grow out of them. Children born with clubfoot will go through 8-10 sets of braces (at around $500 apiece) during the 3-5 years of treatment, and Clubfoot Shoe Exchange has created a way for those braces to continue to be put to good use.
Carrie (Pennsylvania)
I am glad to hear these stories. However, I am disappointed in the use of the adverb "grotesquely" to describe how these children's feet are turned. I believe that word is stigmatizig without being helpful or necessary.
Rick Papin (Watertown, NY)
For these children, "grotesque" probobaly doesn't begin to describe what they feel about their deformity.
Bidwell Drake (Conroe, TX)
In the USA, just Google for Miracle Feet, and you'll get a link where you can donate, one-time or monthly. I just did!
Kristina (NC)
Hello! I work at MiracleFeet and wanted to send a sincere thank you for this comment and donation. The whole team is very appreciative!
John G (Torrance, CA)
Nice, uplifting article.
Yes, more aid.

Birth control to reduce poverty and better lives.
Direct investment to prevent diversion/theft by governments and agencies.
Jane Taras Carlson (Story, WY)
Yes. There cannot be enough birth control in an over-populated world.
KS Burke (<br/>)
Miraclefeet got its start from a Stanford student project and our center's seed funding. Great to see incredible results. Sometime the path from university global health to scalable impact is long, but it happens! Congrats to Miraclefeet team!
Roy G. Saltman (Silver Spring, MD)
I am sorry that the word "miracle" is associated with this work. There is no violation of natural law in applying human action and ingenuity to advance the state of humanity. Yes, we have compassion and apply our knowledge to help other humans. That is not "miraculous;" it is secular humanism.
Rick Papin (Watertown, NY)
If you were uneducated, poverty stricken, and living in a backward nation where physical deformity is considered the result of witchcraft, miraculous is the only possible description.
Ann (Dallas)
Truly great column! I just made a donation to Miracle Feet.
Kristina (NC)
Hi, Ann! I work for MiracleFeet and wanted to send my sincerest thank you from the whole team. We appreciate the support.
Jan (NJ)
Operation Smile for cleft pallet and other medical groups who help the unfortunate in other countries is truly commendable. More people should bequeath their estates to such organizations.
Bill (Austin)
Great!!! Like your articles
Marvin W. (Raleigh, NC)
If we would build one less jet fighter or one less submarine just think how many children in America or around the world could be cured of clubfoot or some other disease. Our foreign policy should not be built on military dominance. It should be built on humanitarian aide. Wake up America and do the right things for the right reasons!
CDM (Richmond, CA)
This is an encouraging and uplifting story. I wonder whether it makes more sense to fund specific charitable interventions like this one, or to provide families with enough money to pay for whatever treatments they need on their own. I am looking forward to the results from the experiment with guaranteed basic income being carried out in Kenya and elsewhere.
Wolfie (MA. REVOLUTION, NOT RESISTANCE. WAR Is Not Futile When Necessary.)
The treatment is available because the charity is there. Give the parents the money instead, where do they go to get the needed therapy? The charity teaches local people to do the therapy, which spreads the ability to do it. Just handing out money, particularly to very poor families, if it was your family that was given the money, would you A. One Parent take the child on a long trek to 'somewhere' to get the treatment, when no one in the village has been more than 10 miles from their village. Or B. Buy food for the whole family, when starvation is lurking? Very poor parents MUST think this way. Offer help for a child with a medical need, they will happily accept. Give them money, put them in a situation that would make any parent cry. Their other children may starve while they take this money to get one child fixed, or spend the money on food & all the children live. Those are the only 2 choices.
David Vermylen (Lake Forest, IL)
I'm very involved with the Faraja School in Tanzania, a school dedicated to children born with severe physical disabilities. Many were born with club foot. We partner with the Usa River Rehabilitation Center which has a clinic to help babies born with club feet. I've been there and it is amazing what they are able to accomplish with newborns. These newborns will not need a school like Faraja thanks to the Usa River clinic. I was born with two club feet but was lucky to have casts put on both feet soon after I was born. I was blessed to be born in the U.S.
Kristina (NC)
Hi, David! I work for MiracleFeet and was excited to share that Usa River Rehab Center is one of our amazing partners. It was so nice to see them mentioned here. Thank you!
David Vermylen (Lake Forest, IL)
Kristina, I've been a two time contributor to Miracle Feet with a third contribution being sent today. Keep up the good work. Hopefully this oped sends a lot of funding your way.
Concerned (Chatham, NJ)
It's not so long since a lot of people in the U.S. had similar feelings about clubfoot (though probably not blaming it on witchcraft). When my first baby was born in the late 1960s, the doctors were very careful not to use the word "clubfoot" - I had to worm it out of them, because they thought I'd be frightened and horrified. I didn't know exactly what clubfoot was, but I did know it could be fixed, so the designation would have reassured me, not frightened. Some members of our extended family were very upset, even before the term clubfoot was used. Yes, the Ponsetti technique, plus the Dennis-Browne splints and the straight-last shoes worked well.
Maureen (New York)
It is good to see that at least these few children are getting some help. However, what Mr. Kristof has only fleetingly mentioned is the fact that getting any medical assistance to the people who really need it is difficult - and in many cases impossible -- sad fact: most of every dollar that comes into Africa is grabbed by government officials and thugs. The donated money is actually stolen. Foreign aid indeed has transformed -- mostly the Swiss bank accounts of the many "strongmen" who carefully monitor every donation that enters their region. Foreign aid organizations cannot set up operations unless they pay up.
Kristina (NC)
Hi, Maureen! I work for MiracleFeet and wanted to share some information with you. Foreign aid is hard, but we believe our model of working through local non-profits, partners, and healthcare providers directly ensures that funding gets to those for whom it is intended. We wire funds quarterly, require detailed expense reporting based on agreed-upon budgets and treatment targets, which include meeting quality metrics, and visit often to make sure we have a very good sense for how the programs we support are being run. No funds are given to the government and we do not give any funds to directly to public hospitals. We are big believers that small, focused aid programs can be extremely effective ways to build local capacity and enable local medical professionals to do the jobs they want to do to help their own people. We hope that helps to explain how MiracleFeet operates. Thank you for reading our story!
Glen Macdonald (Westfield)
In 2007 I had a casual lunch with the to-be founder of Miracle Feet in Basking Ridge, NJ to talk about the "possibility" o Miracle Feet's launch. He expressed both his wish for and trepidation about embarking on the journey of starting a nonprofit enterprise.

I listened to him and offered this: "You have no choice now that you have thought about it. Think of the kids, their transformed lives. You'll always regret it if you don't do it".

In 2013, the Wealth & Giving Forum hosted Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld along with Scott Harrison of charity: water and Alfa Demmallesh of Rising Tide Capital.

The novelist Colum McCann summarized the collective "Narrative of Hope" these and other social entreprenurs represent. It is the world we all truly want -- without any hesitation or trepidation. It is depicted here in this short clip:;index=5&amp;list=PLA9OeO...
FunkyIrishman (Eire ~ Norway ~ Canada)
I read these wonderful stories, and often wonder if we could be doing so much more. For those that know me, I keep hammering home the idea that if governments around the world worked for all of its people, then there would be absolutely no need for charity.

On the flip side of that, I hear these other stories about how the billionaire class ( the to 20 or so in the world ) set up these charities to promote their grandiosity as human beings. They will buy mosquito netting and the like. Then there is our own Lawrence O'Donnell that has the KIND fund that buys desks. It is all good and I thank all of them for doing what they can\want to help.

Of course, we could all be doing so much more.

I go back to my statement from above about governments. The greatest thing the 1st world can do to help the 3rd world is to stop exploiting them for their oil and minerals. ( Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Botswana to name a few ) Google natural resource exploitation of Africa and you will have a gazillion web pages to choose from for education on the issue.

Sure, we can feel good about donating $500 to help a child's foot, but where does that fall in comparison to literally TRILLIONS of dollars sucked dry from the entire continent's wealth to the 1st world. ( let alone all of the civil wars for scraps of what is left, for all of the nations along the way )

Let's talk about that.
Steven (Las Vegas)
I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment. FYI- In 2016 there were 1,810 Billionaires in the world so we could expect even greater benefits.
William J. Oehlkers (Barrington, RI 02806)
Our church has built a school in Gbarnga, Bong County, Liberia. It opened in March 2017. And the teachers are showing up! Powered by solar, it contains two wells and serves lunch to the students. Stop in to visit.
daniel r potter (san jose california)
you gots me in tears thanks.
Ed Krisiunas (Burlington, Connecticut)
I have spent the past 28 years of my life traveling to various countries looking at health care / medical waste management issues. I have traveled around Liberia and Guinea..and will be heading to Sierra Leone later this year. I have been through Ganta..on my way to well as Harper in Liberia. So I l know the level of health care available. I have come across some great people who given the right tools and knowledge, can do so much. Your miracle is one example. I also appreciate the comments of "The dirty little secret of foreign aid is that it’s hard". A lack of leadership ...a lack of ownership in many cases as well as providing products/equipment that facilities are not prepared to use or maintain has been a recurring theme. You can travel in Liberia now and see 8 pieces of equipment..installed but not working...wrong generator..wrong or no transformer. Sterilizers in Zambia from India...poor design...never installed. There are Swaziland for one. For dealing with clubfoot and other orthopaedic issues as well as eyesight, I have been to CCBRT in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania..another miracle location.

To solve the issue of humanitarian aid needs some rethinking..retooling on I do believe it can work...better assessments and simple solutions that can be built upon...I have many stories to share with anyone willing to listen.

Keep up the great stories.

Ed Krisiunas
WNWN International
Waste Not, Want Not
Ken Gallaher (Oklahoma)
Great story.
I guess I have been lucky with a remote charity.
For a number of years I have personally known young people in Myanmar (Burma) who help orphanages. They have built a school building, and also a toilet for orphanages - amongst other things. I help them too. I know for a fact that my donations go 110% to orphans - no overhead - but love, energy, time, and gasoline.
John B Gately (Virginia Beach, VA)
Nic, thank you for this moment of Zen to brighten our days and remind us that not all humanitarian aid is wasted in kleptocracies or misapplied by those senior aid agency bureaucrats whom Graham Hancock once referred to as "The Lords of Poverty." You know, I have heard that you and your extremely talented spouse have developed an online course on how each of us can make a difference in this world. Where can I find it? All the best for your continued success, Jack Gately
jeff (Goffstown, nh)
This reminded me of a time, many years ago, when my fathers Shrine club brought an African boy to Maine, and the Shriners hospital in Springfield MA where his feet where corrected. He had been born with his feet backwards. It may seem an impossible task to help everyone, but to those we can/do help it makes a world of difference. Too bad the GOP has lost sightof that after President G.W. Bushs' intitatives that save millions of lives in Africa from Aids.
Verde (Cambridge, NY)
Terrific article! May we all be agents of positive change with the help of MiracleFeet! Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Kay2B (Lillington, NC)
Please know, Nicholas, that your columns each Thursday/Sunday shine a light on humanity and the possibilities each of us have to make a difference. Imagine if each one of your readers made a commitment to support one child with club foot the impact would be without end. Let us begin today. Thank you, Nicholas, for widening our perspective beyond our most comfortable lives.
Thanks for this article, Mr Kristof. At a time when antidotes to the world's besetting madness are so precious, you yourself are an important antidote, as are your writings.

You remind us of what it is, what it means, to be human, at a time when all the hype and all the birdsong are blinding and deafening us with the message that nothing matters but to be richer and more powerful than everyone else and to show it by trampling on those less fortunate than oneself.

Yet we're all in this together, you, me, the kids in this village and the multi-billionaire on his yacht.

‘You too are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you',
but all the same, you shall die like other men;
as one man, princes, you shall fall.

I keep thinking of the blindingly obvious, as expressed in Psalm 82.

Or of this:

"To use a simile, when you are piling up earth to make a wall, if you take from the top to build up the base, then both top and bottom will be secure. Is this not gain? If you take from the bottom to increase the height of the top, there is the danger it will fall. Is this not loss?"

See The Tao of Organization, Cheng Yi, translated by Thomas Cleary, published by Shambhala, 1988, pp. 131-132 and 136.
chakumi (India)
It is not poverty that kills, it is the people with the regressive attitudes.
lazlo toth (Denver)
Various cultures deal with disabilities in different ways - I hope that the attitude that the 'sins' of the mother is changed along with the successful surgeries. I also hope other systems change so that you could actually attend school (the US had a law IDEA to mandate that), get a job, and have a family if you have a clubbed foot. I also hope that we quit using such words as 'grotesque' to describe this naturally occurring difference among us as humans.

A queen in Spain hundreds of years ago was born with a club foot. Because of her status, all of the townsfolk started walking like her. Shunning or admiration is all relative to our culture and interpretations thereof.

I am glad that some non-profit money actually got to create an outcome for children that are benefitting in the end!!
S. C. (<br/>)
Great article, almost entirely. Completely wrong, however, to refer to this as a miracle. It is, as your piece shows, the result of hard work and not of anything miraculous.
Paul Shindler (New Hampshire)
Terrific reporting. These are the type of human issues we should be working on all over the globe. With the vast technical and medical resources America has, we should be exporting medical help instead of military weapons. THAT is how we can win the hearts and minds of people everywhere.
Kathryn Esplin (Massachusetts)
The world needs more of these stories. Thank you, Mr. Kristof.
Kathryn Esplin (Massachusetts)
I don't have club foot, but I was born with an inherited condition that exists among some members of my family for the last 100 years -- a rare condition that also exists in various countries around the world.

At birth, my legs were bowed, and skin was missing from the front of my legs from the knees down to the top of the foot.

The nuns were shocked but my scientist father also had this condition, and he reassured the nuns that I would be just fine. The missing skin grew in a few weeks later, and the nuns let me go home at 4 weeks old.

I wore leg braces from 18 months to 4 years, and I remember the doctor fastening the braces on my legs, because I cried as he tried to buckle them because the braces were straight but my legs were bowed.

And like the character Forrest Gump who wore braces because he had a crooked spine, I ran with my braces but in a hobbled fashion, oblivious to the difficulty that running with braces imposes.

This condition I have is Bart's Syndrome, after Bruce J. Bart, M.D., of Hennepin Valley, Minnesota, and is on the list of diseases classified as a form of dominant dystrophic epidermolyis bullosa. (DDEB.)

Any child with an affliction -- and the family who loves that child -- experiences how precious life is, and we are grateful for professionals who help that child.

Mother Nature isn't perfect, but caring helps ensure that all people have access to the care, love and opportunities they need and deserve.

Thank you, once again, Mr. Kristof.
Kebabullah (WA State)
Thank you for this positive and enlightening story. I am part of the soon-to-retire Boomer generation looking for ways to contribute to a better world, looking for nonprofit projects donate to and to work with/for. I would really like to see more such articles highlighting different charitable projects which are worthy of people's donations of money and energy. There are fraud and inefficiency in the nonprofit world, and it is hard for individuals to sort them out. Some commenters say the government ought to do more -- and I agree -- but I can't make the government do anything. All I can do is what I can do. So please: more articles about projects which make the world a better place.
Black Cat (California)
Thank you for sharing these beautiful stories! They give me hope.
David Porter (Ozark, Missouri)
It's so easy to make a difference. Either do it yourself or, if you can't get there, give to organizations who are doing it. Thanks so much for this article.
William Baker (Stamford, CT)
Deep gratitude, Nick, for these words. I am actually using my husband's login, but reading this I need to respond. In 1950 I was born with clubfoot and received one of the earliest treatments from Dr. Robert E Lee Patterson at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. It was so new that it was an accident that my mother's obstetrician knew about this work. And yes, it changed my life. Yes, it was a miracle for my mother, who feared the worst. Yes it was a miracle for me, though till you spoke, I haven't fully understood the gift of a lifetime of standing on my own two feet. And the gift of the research that makes it a quick process (mine was eight years of casts). Today i am looking into contributing to Miracle foot. And working through RESULTS to make sure healthcare both in this country and around the world helps all children toward full, healthy lives.
~Lucinda Winslow, Stamford, CT
Laura (Traverse City, MI)
What a breath of fresh air! In a time when the daily news cycle warns of increased terror, destruction, and division, it's wonderful to be reminded how a tiny bit of good can go a long way. It's easy to become wary of international charities, wondering how much of your donated dollar actually goes to the work you were intending to fund, so the evidence that even a few dollars can create promise for the future of so many people is incredible.

It's also a wonderful reminder of how much we have to be thankful for every day. Like you said, Mr. Kristof, treating first-world babies born with clubfoot is done without a second thought and no worry for the future, but elsewhere, it's a life sentence of suffering. Rather than dwell on the things outside of our control, maybe we can focus on using our efforts to change lives. What a wonderful way to live.
james jordan (Falls church, Va)
Beautiful writing. Great essay in support of a great cause. Thank you. I also want to thank Dr. Ponsetti for his persistence and genius and contribution to this miracle.
dbsweden (Sweden)
If America alone halved its military expenditures — now bathed in money under the obscene Trump administration — and restored the severe cuts in Africa's health matters, club feet and a host of other curable plagues would be maladies of the past. Instead, we have a destructive ignoramus president lavishing money on the wealthy folks who have more than enough already. Where are America's priorities?
Maureen (New York)
If you carefully read the article you would have been mad aware of the fact that it is not America's priorities that are askew here -- it is the Africans who abandon their families and the Africans who steal medical supplies and sell them in the public market place.
Kristin Swanson (La Crosse,Wi)
This method to treat club foot is indeed such a blessing and it took the efforts of a dedicated and passionate physician to finally get it into more wide spread use. We need to thank Dr. Ponsetti and the physicians who have continued to teach his method for the fact it is working well for so many. I was fortunate to attend medical school in the early 1980's when we were taught the method by Dr. Ponsetti. It wasn't until much later that realized how special this was. Here is more information about this great man and the method:
VMorr (Glencoe)
Thank you, Mr. Kristoff, for this article. And a thanks to Dr. Swanson for the link about Dr. Ponsetti. Inspiring!
Cgmohler (Orygun)
I trained with Dr Ponseti in the late '80s-he was everything you have heard and more. He also made major advances in research in scoliosis, developmental hip dysplasia and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. After fleeing Spain the end of the Spanish Civil War he made his way to the University of Iowa, training under Arthur Steindler, MD.
Jon Rosen (Stamford, CT)
Truly wonderful stories of successful restoration of function using a relatively simple intervention. But in reporting it would be interesting to know what this country with a GDP of $3.8 Billion dollars has in place for healthcare and how priorities are set within that system. Liberia is a country that has enjoyed independence and freedom from colonialism for a long time (in contrast with it neighbors of Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone- both steeped in chaos and tragic civil wars). I assume Liberians would like to be free of the dependence on white privilege.

As we are seeing in our own current health care debacle, good care takes place in the context of a system that is committed to its population.
Elaine Brennan (NY, NY)
43 years ago we were going through the series of casts to straighten out my infant son's feet. It was followed up with him wearing reverse last shoes, attached to a bar (Dennis Browne splint) and then just the reverse last shoes. One of the greatest moments of my life was when we moved and had our first visit with a new orthopedist who looked at my two year old son's straight little feet and asked "what WAS the problem"?
Eric Leber (Kelsyville, CA)
Ongoing thank you, Nick, for your recurring reminders that we are born wholly capable of loving and being loved and continually caring for all those who abide here with us.

Yes, the number of commentaries on today's article is "only" eight and no surprise, for it does not speak of violence and warfare around the world, sexual assaults, the dramas of famous people but is, as always, plain, simple, clear and tasty as homemade bread. You continue touching those you meet, inviting us to do the same and so embrace a life of caring-for, loving all who need this, which is everyone, no exceptions…..
Cheekos (South Florida)
Great story! I highly recommend M. Kristoff's book, "Half the Sky", co-authored by his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, as well as other books by them. They describe how people, in quite pre-modern societies hare being helped--by doing so directly through the people--in the rural villages. Money that flows to national capitals is general divided among corrupt officials, and it rarely helps the people that it had been intended for.
Victor (Pennsylvania)
This kind of tops my list of "I wanna live in a world where..." I wanna live in a world where once a cure or effective treatment for defects like club foot is developed, the world community moves heaven and earth to deliver that cure to every affected child on the planet; we do not rest until the job is complete.

We came close with the Salk polio vaccine. I still remember the lines stretching past my house from the hospital three blocks away. My sleep is a tiny bit less troubled when I recall that scene, although that moment of solidarity seems today a rather strange fantasy.
Linda Miilu (Chico, CA)
I remember the miracle of Dr. Salk's discovery. My daughter was born in Berkeley after the vaccine; her first dose was on a sugar cube. I remember the pediatric group we belonged to giving small pox vaccines, a small stamp on the arm. We forget that smallpox killed thousands before the vaccine. Polio crippled thousands before the vaccine; I went to high school with kids whose leg muscles were shriveled; they wore braces. I remember pictures of children encased in iron lungs before the treatment of spinal meningitis. We have come a long way in just my generation. A friend had an undiagnosed aneurysm which caused his eyes to enlarge. He went to his local primary care facility, was referred to Yale New Haven, seen by a young Israeli intern who recognized the symptom of an aneurysm, and referred him to same day surgery. The recovery was several months with exercises and follow up visits. His eyesight returned to normal. He is still grateful to that young intern who had seen something similar and made a quick, correct diagnosis.
revdrsbrown (Urbana, OH)
Thanks for your compassionate column on children born with club feet. I was born with them, but was fortunate to have been born in this country and treated for them. You rightly say how many more children suffer this fate and how much more we could do.
Cathy (Hopewell Junction)
We don't care about the people of our own nation. We have decided that people who can't afford medical care are useless or lazy, otherwise they'd have care.

So how are we supposed to convince a government that has decided that people who have illnesses can go hang to help people from another country?

When the government is halted in its stride by people who consider food and medicine and a roof over your head to be a "moral hazard," the fact that care that is cheap and effective as well as humane is available to others will not be a convincing argument.

But thank you Mr. Kristof for your journalism; maybe we will try to elect government with a conscience and soul.
Jay (Richmond, VA)
"We don't care about the people of our own nation." - do a lot of people in your part of the country have club feet? I live in central VA and I don't know anyone with club feet. It's my impression we care deeply for the huge majority of the people in our own nation.
disheartened (Washington, D.C.)
I spent last weekend in Luray, Virginia. I saw TWO cases of mild clubfoot.
susan (fairhaven, ma)
probably because the affliction was remedied at birth!!
C (Eau Claire, WI)
Great article! But I wish the phrase "grotesquely turned inward" wasn't used. I get it that it's meant to paint a picture or drive a point. But as a mother to a daughter born woth clubfoot, never once did the word "grotesque" in terms of her feet come to mind. It never seemed anyone else, doctors and nurses who were unaware of clubfoot ever seemed to cringe or react negatively.
kthomas (Tokyo)
My son was born with such severe club feet that it looked like he would never walk. Two years of casts and braces and multiple surgeries over 18 years have him walking. Some cases are very severe and frightening. I also understand that many advances using 3D printing can now being used to create custom Dennis Brown Splints.
ohno (Silk Hope, NC)
Thank you for the uplifting story.
Where do we send our donations?
Pete (Piedmont CA)
Earlier this week PBS Newshour covered this story and they did name a foundation that funds this work in India.
Ben Martin (Rochester, NY)
CURE, one of the organizations mentioned by Mr. Kristof in this article, runs a global clubfoot program using the Ponseti method. MiracleFeet is a funding partner for CURE. You can learn more about the program at and can donate at
Chesca Colloredo (Chapel Hill, NC)
Thanks for asking! You can send your donations to Miraclefeet, 410 West main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510. Thanks for your interest and we appreciate any support you are able to give.
NormaKate (N.Y., N.Y.)
thanks you Mr Kristoff for the good news !
question- is there any reason for not including
charities that treat condition of club foot
with surgery ? do charities you mention ever
use surgery &/or refer a child for surgical
procedures ?
Kristina (NC)
Hello! I work for MiracleFeet and thought I would offer some explanation. Over the past 10 years, most organizations have focused on treating clubfoot with the Ponseti Method as it is highly effective, inexpensive and avoids the risks, costs, and complications sometimes associated with more invasive orthopedic surgery. A small percentage of children will require additional surgery to fully correct clubfoot. MiracleFeet is exploring ways they can effectively refer these few children to highly skilled orthopedic surgeons in their home countries who can safely provide the treatment needed for full correction. We hope that helps!
Kathleen Brown (New York, NY)
Wonderful, hopeful. Thank you.
Doug McNeill (Chesapeake, VA)
Whether it is correcting clubfoot in Liberia or blindness from cataracts in Nepal, these simple, short-term and highly effective interventions serve as an anodyne to what Mr. Trump refers to as the "carnage" roiling the world. Thank you, Mr. Kristof.
mi (Boston)
Thank you for an uplifting story.
Love again, how one caretaker in a child's life
can make all the difference.
RoughAcres (NYC)
Born w/clubfeet myself.
Glad these children are being helped.
See also