Friday, November 23, 2007

Simple Joys

By Erin Fitzgerald

Introduce yourself to Santiago and the first thing you’ll notice is his toothy grin that stretches ear to ear. Not his disability.

But a quick glance at his right leg reveals years of hardship. Now 5, Santiago was born with a shortened right thigh that left him unable to walk without assistance.

His mother, Olga, often carried him, or Santiago used a crutch to move. Other children teased and even pushed him.

“Santiago would ask me after coming back from school, ‘Mommy, why was I born like this,’” Olga said. “And I would tell him not to worry, that one day he’ll get better.”

Now he is. With help from a prosthesis, Santiago can walk, play and act just like other kids his age in Cartagena, Colombia. He’s experiencing the simple joys of childhood that he couldn’t before.

Without the assistance of Children International and a generous donor, Santiago might not be walking today.

Olga’s husband abandoned the family, leaving Olga to care for Santiago. Olga’s older son lives with his grandmother because Olga can’t afford to support him. Washing and ironing clothes just doesn’t pay enough. But Olga has been unable to pursue other job opportunities because Santiago requires extra care.

She feels fortunate that Children International has helped provide vital assistance like necessary medical care for Santiago. Without additional help, Olga would have found it difficult to afford a prosthesis for Santiago.

Bradd Pavur, a dedicated Children International donor, was more than happy to provide assistance. His generous donation of $545 paid for the prosthesis, and there were even funds left over to buy a bed with a mattress, a pair of shoes and clothes for Santiago.

Olga recalls in vivid detail the day Santiago received the prosthesis. When he tried it on, he walked with such excitement, she explained. He realized that he could now do so many things he had only dreamt of doing before. He said, “Thank you, God, because now I can walk and run. They’ll no longer make fun of me, Mommy.”

It is this type of life-changing assistance that Pavur finds so rewarding. “As the parent of two kids of my own, it’s incredible to think my donation made such a difference,” he said.

Regular sponsorship funds can typically only provide basic health care and medicine for children in our program. Special donations from supporters like Pavur make it possible to assist children who need additional help.
“I find the medical donations make a huge difference in children’s lives,” Pavur noted. “It allows them to have a quality of life that is significantly better. And it helps them to have more positive interactions with their peers.”

In Santiago’s case, being able to act like a normal kid is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Reporting assistance and photos by Marelvis Campo Carmona of our Cartagena, Colombia, agency.

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