I met Cyril in January of 2012. It was the time in my life where God was putting the plans in motion to begin Precious Kids Center. At that point, I didn’t know many kids with disabilities living in Kitale because of the stigma and shame that many of the parents feel causes them to be hidden away. God placed Cyril in my path at a time when I was a little discouraged because plans for starting the center and finding kids weren’t going the way I had expected. God placed her right in front of me and opened up the doors for her to move into Precious Kids Center.
One day I was walking through Shimo Slum on the same path I’d taken hundred of times and my friend pointed to a big kid sitting on the ground in the middle of the road rocking back and forth. I walked up and said hi and talked to some of the ladies sitting near her. One of the ladies told me that her mother was not around and I told her that I would stop by the next day to talk to her.
The next day I stopped by with some Plumpy Nut (a nutritional supplement that helps kids gain weight quickly when they are malnourished) in hopes of meeting her mother. The very same lady that told me that her mom was not around ended up actually being Cyril’s mom, Jacqueline. She told me that Cyril didn’t walk until she was nine years old and that she had never developed the ability to speak. Cyril’s father left the family after the stress of having a child with a disability became too much to handle and Jacqueline got remarried, which made things harder for Cyril. It is common for children living with their stepparents to be treated poorly and because of Cyril’s disability, it made things even tougher. Cyril was severely malnourished. Her legs were swollen, which made it to painful for her to walk so she would just sit outside on the ground and scoot around or rock back and forth.
Jacqueline also had a little boy, Henry, who was about 2 years old at the time. I took one look at him and could tell that he had Down Syndrome. This mother was facing so many challenges with Henry and Cyril, and she also had two other children and one more on the way that she was overwhelmed and tired. We continued bringing Cyril and Henry Plumpy Nut daily for three months until we were ready to open the doors of Precious Kids Center. During these visits we would talk to Jacqueline about Henry’s progress and helped her get in contact with a few therapists help Henry gain enough strength to begin walking. With a little support we saw her attitude towards Henry change and she was proud to report on his progress and willing to take him to various doctors appointments and check-ups.
Because Cyril was living with her stepfather it was difficult to get her the proper care from home. Her mother was unable to work because she had to stay home to care for her children and the stepfather was unwilling to financially support Cyril. So she became the second child to move into the home and we saw her health quickly improving. She has hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which makes her right side not move as well as the rest of her body. With therapy she quickly improved and now is back to walking without problems. Cyril is now seventeen years old and amazing to see how far she has come. She has the greatest laugh you will ever hear. She knows exactly what she wants and even though she can’t speak, she is very good at getting her point across. She loves routine and will only sit in one spot in the living room and all the other kids know that is her space. She also finishes her dinner and puts her plate straight in the kitchen then puts herself to bed.
She also still gets to see her brothers Henry and Sheldon at school. Henry comes to learn at Precious Kids School and is doing well in the baby class. He was slow to achieve many of his developmental milestones, but being at school with the other kids is helping him catch up and he has started saying more words than he did when he first came.
It’s such a blessing to see how far God has brought Cyril and Henry in the last few years. We are blessed to have been able to come alongside this family and give them the support that they need. We were able to give Cyril a new home and give Jacqueline the advice and support that she needed to be able to give Henry proper care in the home. I am proud of Cyril, Jacqueline and Henry and am looking forward to seeing their continued progress in the years to come.