February 14, 2005
Still More Grace
We are not supposed to have favorites, but every one of the workers at the Ndirande handicapped sessions agrees, that Grace is a peach. She is about 8 years old and has Cerebral Palsy.
Because of the disease, she can’t talk at all and her small body is wracked by uncontrollable spasms. To help control these, she has a special wooden chair that her mother brings each week for her. It even has a small desk where she can do her arts and crafts projects and put her snack.
Grace has heavy metal braces and special shoes strapped to her legs so that she can stand up, but she can’t really walk without assistance. She just sits in her chair. Grace has grown over the course of the year, and we think that her palsy seems worse.
Despite all this, Grace almost always seems happy. She smiles copiously whenever anyone takes her picture. She grins when you greet her, and is delighted with any attention you give her. She is very bright too, and understands English much better than most of the other children and adults. When one visitor from England recently observed her, she said, “If only Grace didn’t live in Malawi…there would be so much more that we could do for her.”
But Grace is well cared for. Her mother, Rosemary, always has her in a clean (though sometimes tattered) dress, and sits beside her, helping her to grasp a crayon or glue some paper on a card.
Rosemary is a faith-filled woman, and is often asked to pray or give the message at the sessions. Rosemary has a part time job working with orphans. While she is at work, Grace goes to a “school.” It is not a regular school, we think it is more like a day care center.
Two weeks ago when we got to the church hall, Heather and Aukje noticed someone lying in a lump on the floor sobbing. The disheveled child with hair askew and tears streaming down her face did not look like Grace, but it was!
The girls picked her up and cuddled her in their laps until Rosemary, who had been detained, came in about 15 minutes later. She quickly put a clean dress on her daughter and sat her in her special chair. She explained that Grace was upset and embarrassed because she wanted to look nice in her fresh dress. She did not like lying on the floor in a heap, but could not sit up. Grace seemed to recover and was smiling as she made a butterfly out of coffee filters with Heather.
This week, Grace was really smiling. She had a brand new set of bright red braces on her feet. I rushed up to congratulate her. She was actually able to shake her head and grin when I said how much I liked her new red shoes.
As I said, we are not supposed to have favorites, but his young girl tugs at my heartstrings, and I look forward to seeing her each week.