One of the challenges I have in “educating” people about Cerebral Palsy, CP, is the fact that there does not appear to be a vernacular word for it. None of the three major tribes in this country has a name for it.I have often tried to invent an Ibo name for it, but I am yet to find one. On the fifth anniversary of my
hearing coming in contact with Cp, I made an effort to redefine it here yet, I wonder if I did a good job of that.
However, I have decided to make as many people as I can know of the existence of the condition Cp, in my own little way. March is celebrated as Cerebral Palsy Awareness month.The Cpcenter is planning an awareness walk and Public lecture towards the end of the month to key into the celebration, but that now is not what I mean. I decided to talk to people I meet, especially those I meet for the first who appear not be aware of the condition. My target is to at least talk to one person daily. I know it appears a tall order but I should try and make an effort. Please note that my focus is not neccessarily the “educated” but on the ordinary man on the streeet,
On the 1st of March, it was Thursday last week, I needed to go look for the sponsors for the event the center is planning for the end of the month. That was a good day to that, and since defining Cp is not very easy to a common man, I thought I should take she that represents the condition, so along came Ziim.
We were at a pharmaceutical company. I got a parking space, brought out Ziim’s push chair from the boot, positioned and pushed her towards the reception. As we approach the door; aunty, do your pikin head well, she is sleeping (you know we are yet to achieve head control), thank you madam, but she is not sleeping. Oh, she is not well? No, she is fine. She cast me this look of “are you well yourself?” I had a smile on my face. We walked into the reception, she walked behind us. I spoke to the receptionist, asking to see Mrs. K. madam please sit while I check to see if she is on seat…more like while I check to see if she would like to see you. We sat down, the lady that spoke to us earlier was asked to wait too, so she sat down a seat away from us. She had her eyes on us, and so did other people in the waiting room.
Shortly after we sat down, she asked me again to lift up my baby’s head, I said, madam, do not worry, she will do it herself. I turn to Ziim; Ziim Ziim, head up, I took out her rattle from my bag, rattled it at her, she slowly lifted her head up with a smile on her face. Aunty, this your pikin no well o, you no go take am go church XXX, hm, that man of God is very powerful. Really? Yes aunty, if you go there, he will cure this child for you. You suppose to dey hear of the man. Yes, the man is very powerful, any sickness one goes there with is healed (that was a man in the waiting area). Thank you all, but the problem is that my daughter here is not sick. Haba madam, which kin talk be this, how you go look this kind child say she no sick.This big girl, you dey push am for chair, the head no stand. It is usually difficult talking to people like this about Cp, but I have to, children with Cp live amongst them, that is, if some of them do not have them.
So I made an effort explaining what it is, more like how it presents, how you recognize it in infants and children, Ziim was there so she was Cp visible. I talked about what could cause it. How it has defied medical cure up to now. Madam, have you taken her to India? No, but I know people who have taken their children, they were not cured. Hm.. this thing must be powerful then, na devil oh!! I do not know about it being a devil but I know that is not a condition you would want someone you know to have, though I love my daughter with it. I told them about therapies, things that are being done to “fight” it, how the oyibos are not resting, they are investing a lot of money on research to find cure for it. A lot of children with the condition get to achieve their potential with therapies.
The receptionist approached me; Mrs K is not on seat ma. Ok, may I leave my letter then? Ok ma. I gave her the letter I came with, she signed the acknowledgment copy. I bade my “audience” good bye. I was about to drive off when a lady from the “audience” ran up to me; aunty, sorry oh, you would observe that I was quiet while you were talking, my uncle’s child is like this.Theyhave been to various churches, I think the man is tired, it is only the wife that takes the child around now. How old is the child? I think about four years. And where do they stay? Isolo. that is not too far from me. I gave her a copy of the center brochure asking her to ask her uncle’s wife to contact the center if she wishes.The center would be glad if she did.
ThoughI did not see Mrs K which was my main aim of going all the way to Agidingbi, but I had some sense of fulfilment. I felt like I just had an awareness walk or is it a public lecture of course with Ziim by my side. I love this picture of Ziim. Hope you do, and please talk to someone about Cp today and if you meet someone with the condition, do show some love. It is Cp awareness month.