Free At Last! (SA)


Connie is a 14-year-old girl who lives in South Africa.  She was born with a form of cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that has affected one side of her body, resulting in her inability to walk or have full use of her extremities.  However, her physical limitations do not seem to affect her spirit. The joy that exudes from Connie is contagious! Connie is quick to make people feel welcomed with her bright personality.  She loves to joke around and talk with everyone who visits. Her level of English is incredible and when asked how she learned the language, she accredits it to watching TV and reading - two of her favorite hobbies. It is obvious that Connie LOVES to learn and is very bright.

She has the same desires as her twin brother and other children her age – to go to school and to play with friends. These dreams were put on hold when she lost her mother several years ago. Previously, Connie’s mother was able to carefully move her down the large, front steps of the family home in her old and deteriorating wheelchair and push her over the rocky and uneven road to school. Unfortunately, her grandmother lacks the strength to transport growing Connie out of the house.  Over the years Connie grew out of her wheelchair, and as a result, she became housebound and so was unable to attend school and see her friends daily. 

The Care Workers at Senzokuhle Home-based Care have been committed and diligent in caring for and advocating for Connie over the past many years. They visit her every week and assist her with treatments and techniques that ease her pain and discomfort. Because of her condition, Connie lost the use of one side of her body, creating contortion of her limbs. The Care Workers have been taught body movement techniques to open up the circulation and increase mobility. The idea is that this will provide Connie with a better quality of life--creating less pain, lessening the contortions and increasing mobility.


When she met Connie on a recent trip to South Africa, Sara, an volunteer from the U.S., was immediately struck by Connie’s story and determined to try to help.  When she got home, she challenged her family to help Connie in a practical way. They raised funds to purchase a brand new wheelchair and to purchase materials needed to build two ramps - one inside Connie’s house, connecting her bedroom to the living room, and one at the front entrance, connecting Connie to the rest of her community! Can you imagine the sense of relief and hope Connie now feels?  There are now plans for the youth leaders to transport Connie to the Senzokuhle Youth Program several times a week, and the hope is that she will now be able to return to school!