Olivia Giles’ Story

I was told that I had contracted meningococcal septicaemia which is the blood poisoning form of meningitis. It took a few weeks for me to fully realise that both my hands and my feet had been amputated. Knowing that I was still here, still alive, still with my whole life ahead of me seemed to be just such an amazing, lucky opportunity.

I owe my life, and my quality of life to the Scottish NHS. I frequently describe the day that I took my first steps as being the best day of my life. I could not have been more happy if I had learned how to fly and knowing that I was definitely going to walk out of that hospital on my own two legs, was knowing for the first time that I was really getting a second chance.

Before 500 Miles came to Malawi there was no prosthetic or orthotic service in Central or Northern region. We produce an average of over 160 devices every month. For children it is a passport into education. For disabled adults it's the opportunity to try and get a job. It's actually life transforming for people. Everyone deserves a second chance.

I don't deserve a brilliant prosthetic service any more than somebody crawling on the ground in Malawi and it's that abhorrent inequality which really triggered 500 Miles for me. I've learned that the human spirit is phenomenal. The instinct to survive and to make the best of things is extremely powerful and that if you have got something you want to do today is a good time to get on with it.

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