Friday, November 21, 2008

Stephen is about 3 or 4 years old. He came to us in May from an orphanage in Kumasi. He’s not like the majority of other kids who live here – he’s physically disabled, like some of the other kids, and he’s been totally abandoned, like all of the other kids – but unlike most of the other kids (except maybe some of the kids with cerebral palsy) he doesn’t seem to have any kind of intellectual disability. There was a volunteer at the orphanage who came and asked Ineke to consider taking Stephen here. The staff at the orphanage never allowed much physical contact, didn’t want the kids to be picked up or held, etc., according to the volunteer – and she felt strongly attached to Stephen and promised that she would continue to send support to cover his expenses here at PCC (a promise which was kept for only a couple of months, unfortunately; I think sometimes people return to their countries and the time they spent here in Africa becomes a dream to them, hopefully a good memory, but something from which they eventually feel distanced).

We were able to take Stephen to the people from the OTC (the Orthopedic Training Center - I tried to find a good link to include for this place, but couldn't find one in English). I often used to take people with disabilities there – when I was living and working with Hope for Life in Accra and then again when I was on the refugee camp. So it felt like seeing old colleagues again; old colleagues who were recommending surgery for Stephen – in fact, a series of surgeries which, along with the recovery and therapy process, might last up to a year.

my photo of a picture taken of Stephen and his "Mom" following his surgery

Stephen’s legs are bent up (just to clarify, this is not the technical, medical diagnosis), and he crawls around – and he’s a bundle of energy, chasing after the other kids, fighting (both play-fighting and serious fighting), laughing, crying, asserting independence yet demanding attention. Basically, he’s just a typical 3 – 4 year old (with bent up legs).

Stephen sitting up in bed upon our arrival

Greeting Janet, and maybe more importantly, trying to get some cookies from her purse

Finally, a couple of weeks ago he received the first of his surgeries. We went to visit him a little over a week after (the Saturday which ended up with me rehydrating milk as described in a previous post): Joyce, who’s like the mother of everyone here, Janet, the woman in the kitchen who keeps us fat, Philo, a little girl that Joyce takes care of, and Emmanuel (Ema), one of Stephen’s buddies.

Within no time, Stephen demonstrated he’s the same bundle of energy, shouting out Ema’s name, laughing loudly, crawling on the floor, chasing after Ema, taking playful swings at him.
And doing all of this with casts that go from above his knees down to his just above his toes.

Stephen teaching Ema how and where to properly kiss his "baby"

Leticia, his “mother”, has been staying with him in the hospital – taking good care of him, making sure he stays fat. He’s also made good friends with Isaac, the boy in the bed next to his, who has the same casts on his legs that Stephen has. Just this week, 12 days after his first surgery, Stephen has received the second operation. Now we’ll see how the things progress – if any more surgeries will actually be necessary, how much time for the therapy, and how long before he can return to his home here at PCC.


At 6:49 PM, Blogger MJ said...

He sure is a cutie. What are the surgies supposed to do for him?

At 2:52 PM, Blogger steve said...

straighten his legs - I'm not sure if in the long run he'll be able to walk with crutches, or be able to walk freely, though. But, he'll be upright - looking people in the eye, rather than being looked down upon.

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