Wounded Belarus paratrooper gets help from German reservists

German reservists arrange a state-of-the-art hand prosthesis for a Belarusian paratrooper wounded during a military drill.

Syarhey is greeting me and stretching his right hand for a shake. I can’t believe my eyes, but after I eventually press it, I feel something cold, resembling a plastic for children’s toys. Pain flashes in Syarhey’s eyes.

“Sorry, I haven’t got used to it yet,” the guy says, bending what I took for a miracle with the help of his left hand.

In September 2006, Syarhey Barysyuk, a young paratrooper from Brest, was taking part in a military exercise, when a self-propelled gun mount fired, wounding the soldier. The young man lost his right arm and had his ear-drums seriously damaged. Up to now, he has struggled to restore his normal hearing.

I met Syarhey on the street when he was walking to the Brest State University where he is a distant-learning history student. Judging by his appearance, it is hard to realize that the young man was serious wounded while serving at the 38th Detached Mobile Brigade.

After the accident, the brigade’s officers launched a fund-raising effort to help Syarhey out. They were soon joined by reservists from the German city of Ravensburg which is Brest’s brother city. The Germans also arranged for Franz Mauer, a renowned German orthopedist, to travel to Brest and check the former soldier personally.

The prosthesis was made free of charge by Franz Mauer’s friend. The raised funds were spent on the materials for the prosthesis. Ravensburg city hall also contributed part of the money for the artificial limb.

Driven by an electrical motor, the arm allows Syarhey to pick a cup of coffee from the table or press a button on TV remote control. It can turn and bend his fingers and ankle joint. Special sensors analyze the tension of muscles on Syarhey’s back, if he wants to raise his hand or pick something, and send a signal to the electrical motor which does the job.

Unfortunately, Syarhey has failed to restore his hearing yet. This requires time. Doctors say he will be able to hear at least to maintain a conversation without interrupting his interlocutor. The young man says he has so far learned to read people’s lips in order not to waste time.

Photo: www.isra.com