Some days when I arrive for work at my clinic in Ottawa I still cannot believe how much my life has changed.
I grew up in Lebanon at a time when the smell of war shells was always in the air.
When I was 21 years old and studying Business at the American University of Beirut, I opened Bigfoot Shoe Repair – a small shoe repair shop – because I wanted to be my own boss. I was very proud of my business and its success and I thought I would spend my life repairing shoes.
However, one day a male customer brought in a pair of shoes for resoling that were custom fabricated to accommodate his foot problems. The specialist who had made the shoes had disappeared during the civil war and the customer was very concerned. The customer learned that I was a university graduate and he advised me to stop repairing shoes and become an orthopedic shoemaker. He said if I had a diploma I could have charged him $100 instead of the $10 he paid me for his job.
His words inspired me and a short while later I was fortunate to be accepted in a Prosthetic Orthotic Program. After I graduated I re-founded Bigfoot Orthopedics and later travelled to France for additional pedorthic studies. My combined knowledge of shoe repair and pedorthics was very valuable and Bigfoot thrived.
However, in July 2006, there was another period of war so I started to think about immigration. Two years later I sold my business, moved with my wife and children to Canada and earned my C. Ped (C). Today I am happily running my own clinic in Ottawa and sharing my international pedorthic experience, including traditional and digital orthotic techniques, with my Canadian patients.
By Sal Sabbagh, C. Ped (C), Ottawa, ON