Caring for a child with cerebral palsy: A mother’s struggle

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NOREEN Musonda of Lusaka’s Mtendere Compound is a single mother of five children.

Her youngest daughter, 6-year-old Mercy Bwalya, has cerebral palsy.

The condition is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Cerebral palsy affects speech and is the most common motor disability in childhood.

Cerebral means weakness or problems with using muscles and while it has no cure, it has options of treatment which include physiotherapy, exercise speech and language therapy.

Upon discovering her daughter’s condition, Noreen got so affected that she took time to accept the situation.

“I would cry most times because it was strange to me. I am the only one to have given birth to a child with a disability in the family,” says the widowed Noreen.

Six years down the line, all she cares about is for Mercy to have a normal life.

“I have to carry her on my back everywhere I go. She’s becoming heavy and it is proving difficult to carry her even for a short distance,” she says.

Noreen says she usually experiences backache every time she carries Mercy on a long distance.

At home, Noreen rarely moves in order to keep watch over Mercy while her other four children are at school.

She laments that she can’t take Mercy to school because of her challenges in mobility.
Noreen now wants well-wishers to help her procure a walker and a wheelchair to help Mercy’s mobility.

“I cannot do anything productive because of my daughter’s situation. I can’t even do business. The last time I tried a business I was not successful,” she says.

The other challenge Noreen is grappling with is paying rent and feeding her children.

She reveals that her relatives have to make personal contributions to help her raise money for rentals for her two-roomed house in Mtendere pegged at K700.

She also reveals that Mercy gets hungry at short intervals and has to eat regularly.

“They advised me at the hospital that she needs to be eating regularly because of her condition. I cannot manage to buy food regularly because I am not doing anything at the moment,” she says.

Noreen has since appealed to well-wishers to help her start a business that will enable her look after Mercy and her other children.

#EDITOR NOTE: This article has been extracted from an interview Noreen recently had with the Zambia Daily Mail.

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