Wednesday, 13 April 2016
My name is Darla* and I am 14 years old. I am deaf and dumb. I have three little sisters and I am the eldest of the family. My parents tell me that they first noticed something wasn’t right when I was only one month old. I was very sick with meningitis so they took me to the hospital. I recovered from the illness but was a sickly child. It cost my parents a lot but they regularly took me to hospital as a baby for different reasons. My parents really struggled financially from all my medical costs.
When I turned the age most children start speaking, my parents discovered that I could neither talk nor hear. This grieved them so much but they took care of me and they loved me as their daughter. My parents felt helpless and did not know what to do. They spent a lot of time praying for me. On top of being deaf and dumb, I also began sufferering from another disease that delayed my physical development and affected my breathing.
One day a neighbour with a deaf child told my parents about the Help for the Handicapped Centre. My parents got in contact and enrolled me in the school. I was so happy to find myself among several other children with disabilities. For the first time I realise that I was not alone and this comforted me!
A medical visit from an international doctor in our school diagnosed me with a weak heart. My prospects weren't very good and my parents were very fearful of what might happen to me! We were completely overwhelmed when we found out that a sponsor would pay for me to go to Switzerland to have surgery. I was so excited by the possibility of going to another country! Not just that – another continent!
Once in Switzerland, I thought I was in another world. I saw, heard and ate things I had never could have imagined. I was surprised by just how kind people were in reaching out to a girl with poor parents from a remote village that is not even widely known in West Africa. I understand that this was a work of God to give me hope in my life. Now I am so happy. I feel at ease in my body. I hear some sounds and can say a few words… what a miracle!
*not real name to protect identity
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