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Life with spina bifida in Kenia

“As a child, I was loved by no one”, Francesca tells. She was rejected by her father and by the local community that believed she was cursed and she was often left to fend for herself when her family went out. It was a two-hour walk for her to get to school and spina bifida made this a laborious task. She developed inflammations in her legs that later developed into serious infections and sometimes she was unable to attend school for months. Owing to her incontinence the other children at her school avoided her and she did not have any friends, so at the age of 12, Francesca decided to spend the days under a tree near her home.

From a better health

Fortunately, one day her uncle took her to Bethany Kids in Kijabe hospital. It was here she received the first insights into her disability and its connection to her bodily issues. For a wound on her foot that would not heal, amputation seemed to be the best solution and she was given a prosthetic limb and a brace to improve her walking. Francesca mastered her bladder problems after following our continence management programme.

“When I became clean and dry, I felt like a worthy human being with a need to live: to be accepted for who I am, confident and motivated by the second lease on life I had gotten.” During this new phase of her life Francesca was given another opportunity when the hospital offered her a position as a childcare worker.

To a proper life

Today, Francesca is still working in Joy Town, a school for disabled children. This particular school hosts more than 80 children that were born with the same disability as Francesca. She supports parents to guide their children towards a meaningful life, something she so sorely missed in her early childhood. She provides CIC (Clean Intermittent Catheterization) training and education concerning skincare and says “I am very grateful for Child-Help and the knowledge and skills I acquired through conferences, seminars, and workshops over the past few years.”

Francesca also adds: “I can walk, work and earn money. As a result, I also managed to find love. The first time someone told me: “I love you”, I refused to believe it. Love me? With my disability? But it is possible, I am living proof: I am happily married and together we have an adorable son!”

Watch Francesca’s testimony on:

With the aid and assistance of Child Help, Francesca Naijipu took her first steps to a normal social life.

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