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Learning to walk.

Reflections from a new sponsor

Before they arrived, we knew the family of four included Mom, Dad, a three year old and a six year old with some disabilities. Our first meeting was at an airport hotel. Everyone was anxious. The adults were quiet, and tentative, not bursting with joy, unlike the refugees that you usually see on TV.

They were different from us, in so many ways that it was disorienting.

The disabled girl was vegetative, unresponsive and unable to speak.

We stopped for a bit of food on the way to their new home. The disabled girl's food was pre chewed or softened by the Dad.  We learned the family had no idea where they were going nor who we were. They had less information than we did. How frightening that must have been.

When we reached their new home - a simple apartment, filled to the brim with donated furniture and a full pantry - they were unresponsive. The translator had to convince them that it was not a stopover on their journey but where they were going to live. They did not believe that they were so lucky. Although they were not the jump up and down for joy type of people, the translator communicated that he had to keep reassuring them, that it was theirs.

Very early in our relationship it was necessary to learn what the parent's wanted for their disabled daughter. There was only one goal. They wanted her to walk on her own.

She has been here for only seven months. With the advantages of Canadian medicine and rehabilitation this little lady has been transformed. She is no longer vegetative, but alert and active.

She now has leg braces, uses a specialized walker, and will soon be getting a tri-cycle. With a bit of support under the armpits, she is able to walk short distances, often kicking a ball or a balloon. She says her name and communicates constantly with a variety of sounds and expressions. She is being taught to feed herself.  Her therapists feel she will be able to walk on her own by the end of this year.

No one yet knows her true potential.

There are few greater pleasures than being at one of her therapy sessions and see her do something new. The therapists, Mom, and anyone lucky enough to be in the room get all misty eyed.

When happy, she now throws her head back, puts out an ecstatic and infectious smile. She has all of us trained to try to get her to that point.

Working with this family has been incredibly fulfilling and exciting. I am sure that we will be friends for life. We tease each other, nonstop. We are always laughing, even with language barriers.

Even if this little girl did not have such progress, the journey would still have been rewarding.  

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