Grace

Grace in the classroom in her new wheelchair given to her by CBM-supported hospital in Tanzania.
Country: Tanzania
Category: Education for all

At 7 years old, Grace, who has cerebral palsy, was unable to sit up unaided and could only say one word "Mama". Her mother loved her daughter dearly, but caring for her daughter who no help of specialist support was desperately hard.

Grace's mother could not work as Grace needed constant care. They struggled on what support Grace’s uncle could provide.

Because of the stigma surrounding disability in their community in Tanzania, Grace’s mother had to cope with hostility from her neighbours. She weeps as she remembers. "Many
 said 
that Grace 
was
 a
 nuisance.
 Why
 don't 
you
 kill 
her, just
 choke 
her, was
 their advice. I
 could
 never 
have
 done
 that".

Support and education

A turning point came when they heard about CBM's partner and Grace joined their Community-Based Rehabilitation programme. A specialist outreach worker visited regularly to help Grace and her mother.

After two years of physiotherapy and support, Grace could sit up, feed herself and indicate when she needed the toilet. She received a specialist wheelchair and, thanks to support from CCBRT, she now attends pre-school.

At first, the teacher was reluctant to have her: "I 
work 
here 
alone 
and 
I 
had 
never seen 
anyone 
like 
her 
before", she
 says. "But 
meanwhile I 
get along 
pretty
 well 
with 
Grace.
 She
 is
 such
 a
 friendly
 girl
 and
 really 
eager 
to
 learn".

It's not easy for Grace to get to school - her mother and uncle have to carry her much of the way in her wheelchair. But now she is joined by some of her school friends on the journey. For Grace's mother, it's a relief to know that her daughter is making friends, while she can work to support them both.

"I
 can
 work 
on 
the
 field 
now
 to 
earn 
some
 money. I 
know 
that 
Grace
 is 
well 
looked
 after
 in
 the 
Kindergarten.
The children
there like 
and 
accept her, 
play 
with 
her.
"

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