Neal Atkinson works to help amputees

Published 7:30 pm Monday, December 24, 2007

By Staff
Sri Lanka’s maimed get prosthetic limbs
Senior Reporter
Neal Atkinson of Chocowinity has devoted much of his energy lately to Sri Lanka’s people to help the ones who need prostheses because they do not have various body limbs.
This idea grew from his membership in the Washington Noon Rotary Club.
Payne said Atkinson has taught himself how to seek and win grants through the Rotary Foundation, the charitable arm of Rotary International.
Payne said Atkinson has seen that this humanitarian project has filled the need it was built to do.
The local noon club put up $15,000 for the cause, a Rotary club from Arizona donated $4,000, a club from Kandy, Sri Lanka, contributed $6,000 and the Rotary Foundation matched the sum with a grant of $25,000.
The Arizona club is in the equation because if one Rotary club in the United States wants to do an international mission, it must participate with another club from the United States. Kandy, Sri Lanka, has to contribute to the mission because the mission is in its country and is nearby geographically to the Center for the Handicapped, where many amputees come for artificial limbs.
Prosthetic legs below the knee cost $150 to build and prosthetic legs above the knee cost $300 to make.
People who have been helped, partly by Atkinson’s work, include 300 of those who needed artificial legs, 99 of those who needed other prosthetic equipment for missing limbs other than legs and 12 people who needed specially-built wheelchairs.
Some Sri Lankans have lost limbs by stepping on land mines, some in train accidents, others by septic conditions, some by falling ill to chronic illnesses, some from stepping on traps designed to snare animals and others from birth defects.
Sri Lanka is about the size of West Virginia and it has a population of 21 million. It is an independent island country located near the southeast coast of India. Its capital is Colombo. Kandy is a large city, but not the size of the Sri Lankan capital.