An Australian organisation has reached a milestone 5,000 prosthetic hands built for victims of land mines, accidents, and violence across Cambodia and India.
And Helping Hands announced on Sunday even higher targets for the next two years - with a pledge to construct 10,000 new prosthetic limbs by the end of 2017.
Since 2012, the organisation has been attending corporate events and conferences to run programs where companies construct hands that will be packaged, sent, and fitted to those in need overseas as part of a team-building exercise.
The programs run across every state in Australia, with about 15,000 people contributing to the 5,000 hands that have already been made.
The organisation’s founder, Matt Henricks, saw first-hand the impact the work has for the people receiving donations on his most recent trip to Bangalore, India.
“One of the people who had a hand fitted was a 23-year-old woman whose uncle had chopped her hand off in a domestic dispute with her father when she was just three years old,” Henricks told the Huffington Post Australia.
A young woman is fitted with a prosthetic hand in India (Helping Hands)
“She burst into tears as soon as she realised she could hold a mug.”
Henricks believes the prosthetic hands aren’t just a physical gift for those who receive them, but help them feel valued too.
“She’d grown up for twenty years with no hope that she would ever get any assistance, feeling that she’s worth so little,” Henricks said.
A young boy holds a koala while his limb is fitted (Helping Hands)
“For so many of the people we meet, the biggest gift we’re giving them is an emotional healing. We’re telling them that they mean something.”
Many of the people who receive the prosthetic hands are landmine victims. Landmines kill more than 15,000 people each year worldwide, with many child victims.
More are left maimed or severely injured by the explosive devices, which litter the soil of more than 70 countries.
“We like to think we’ve solved the problem but there’s still people living with the legacy of war after war and unethical conduct,” Henricks told HuffPost Australia.
“There’s still a whole bunch of people in need. Our contribution is small but it makes a difference.”