e-NABLE produce prostethic arms for the local community

Alumnus helps bring prosthetics to those in need in Colombia

Alumnus Theo Gwyther (History and Spanish, 2017) took some time to go traveling before starting a new job and ended up staying away for longer, volunteering to help communities in Colombia.

After spending two months in the country, Theo decided he wanted to do something to support local people and has since started volunteering with a charity called e-NABLE that designs and creates prosthetic arms for people in Colombia, many of whom have lost their limbs in land mines from the civil war. All of the limbs are created using 3D printers and provided free of charge to the patients. 

Theo said: “Colombia is a country that can often on the face of things seem idyllic, it is a stunning place and the vast majority of people are so happy - they certainly don’t sweat the small things in life. However, beneath the joyous exterior is an undercurrent of extreme inequality and poverty, not to mention a history of extreme violence. So, I googled charities in Colombia and immediately Medellin-based e-NABLE stood out.

“They have the ability to transform someone’s life and this technology’s potential is really impressive. Crucially, this is all done free of charge to the recipient. As someone who had several operations as a child to fix up my cleft lip and palate I can testify that receiving world-class treatment is truly humbling. Without the wonders performed by the NHS staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, I would likely have had a trickier entrance into adulthood. Therefore, when I saw a video of a young boy’s reaction to receiving his arm, I was really keen to help out.”

Theo’s primary role is to collaborate with local businesses to sell merchandise that the charity produces in order to raise money for providing more prosthetic arms.

Theo said: “The great thing about 3D printing is that it allows really high levels of precision so the arms are as effective as possible. Also, volunteers pour their hearts into designing and customising the arms - for instance, many of the kids love having the arm in the colours of their favourite football team. This year there have been 25 recipients, with hopefully 40 by the end of the year. Depending on the funding received in the next few months, the aim for 2020 is to have 60 beneficiaries.” 

Theo will soon return to the UK to start work with the Civil Service, but would love to be able to return to Latin America one day in some capacity, ideally in a diplomatic or environmental role.

Date: 30 September 2019

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