One of these children is Nadeeshani. We wanted to share her story with you.
Nadeeshani is 13 years old and lives in the rural town of Weeraketiya, about 15km from Sri Lanka’s south coast. Her father is a farm labourer and earns a small amount each day to support his wife and three children.
Nadeeshani’s parents were overjoyed when she was born. As they lived below the poverty line, her father took on additional work to help make ends meet.
But their joy turned to worry when they realised that little Nadeeshani was unable to breastfeed.
Her parents took Nadeeshani to the nearest hospital and, after several tests, learned that she had cerebral palsy. The doctors explained the consequences of the condition but there was no further community-based support on offer to the family once Nadeeshani was discharged from hospital.
Isolated and afraid, Nadeeshani’s parents took her home and tried to cope. But without support to understand the condition, they didn’t know how to look after her. Nadeeshani spent most of her time lying on a makeshift bed on the floor of a room with no electric lighting. Her parents fed her as best they could but didn’t know how to ensure she was eating enough.
As a result Nadeeshani ended up with pneumonia, pressure sores and stunted growth. Her parents were devastated.
A few years later, Navajeevana’s local field officer Ms. Yamuna found out about Nadeesha through the network of volunteers who provide local intelligence to help identify families in need of support. Ms. Yamuna gave encouragement and hope to Nadeesha’s family through counselling.
“Apita podi balaporoththuwak ethi una” (we have a little hope now), said her mother.
And that’s how little Nadeesha’s parents were selected for the workshop on how to look after children with cerebral palsy, funded by Friends of Navajeevana in the UK.
It was a one-day workshop and Navajeevana’s dedicated staff were able to educate her parents about proper feeding techniques, using the toilet, dressing, recreational activities and, most importantly of all, how to position Nadeeshani correctly.
On the same day Navajeevana’s rehabilitation team assessed Nadeeshani for a custom-made supportive seat. The chair was built and delivered within two weeks. When it arrived her mother cried with relief.
Now Nadeeshani’s parents feed her on her chair and are able to involve her in day-to-day activities like cooking and playing with children in the neighbourhood.
Nadeeshani has a long journey ahead. But thanks to Navajeevana, she will be making that journey with her parents right behind her, more confident in how to help her and equipped with the right tools to do so.
Thank you for continuing to support Friends of Navajeevana so that we can help make a difference to hundreds of children like Nadeeshani.