We made our way through the mud and cow dung into the tiny house. There curled up on the bed was a boy. His mom said he was 18 years old, but he didn’t look bigger than my 10-year-old daughter. One foot was at a funny angle and his legs were bent and thin.
“He keeps breaking his bones,” his mom said. “This last time the hospital said that there was nothing they could do, and they didn’t cast his broken leg.”
This boy has cerebral palsy and because of his inability to move, the bones in his legs have grown weaker and fragile and so they break easily. He is in a lot of pain because of his broken bones that are unable to heal correctly because they have not been cast. His mom and dad lovingly care for him. Their love and care is evident in how clean he is and that he has no pressure sores as one would expect from a boy like this, and no signs of respiratory infection. His parents have meticulously cared for him and prevented these extra complications from happening. He is their only child, and this is a tragedy in a culture where children are their parents’ security in old age.
The lady who brought us to visit brought diapers to help the mom care for him. Our advice to the mom is to keep turning him from side to side and get him into a sitting position if she can do so without causing him too much pain. We suggest putting a pillow between his legs to keep them apart and reduce the stiffness so that she can keep the area clean and dry.
Then they gave us permission to pray for them. We are surprised by this. This family are Muslims. There is a spiritual battle going on in the village where they live. Mosques are being built in every little village in the area and the people are being told to become more religious.
But they give us permission to pray and so we pray that God would give strength and wisdom to this family on how best to care for their son. We pray for healing and blessing on this boy and the unspoken prayer in all our hearts is that this family would come to know the True Hope who came to die for us all.
As we leave, I feel an urgency. This boy’s life could have been so different if we had seen him 16 years ago and had told his parents to keep him moving and standing so that his bones wouldn’t grow weak and fragile. Would he then have been able to learn and reach his full potential?
As we visit homes in the village and meet with children with cerebral palsy and their parents, the memory of this boy in pain gives me energy and impetus to keep going, to keep teaching and showing and training as much as I am able, so that other kids can have a chance to be well cared for and helped.
Our experience with this boy encourages us to keep smiling, to keep telling people that besides what the culture tells them – they are loved by God, not cursed, and their love is seen by their children.
Beth is from the global South, and she loves the ocean and cold Christmas dinner on a hot day around the pool. She is married to an adventurer, and they have three wonderfully unique children.