Sunday, 31 July 2011

Unveiling Nonye’s warm hands in the ‘game’ of life…

Nonye lives in Nigeria. Last year she contacted me to help her to set up Conductive Education services in the Cerebral Palsy Centre which she established in Lagos.

After reading her e-mail I telephoned her. I like to talk to people who approach me with such a desire, rather than just read their words over the ether.

From that first conversation we exchanged many e-mails and discussed the potential benefits of Conductive Education for Nonye’s daughter and for other children at her centre.

In June this year Nonye came to England to visit her family.

With the help of Norman Perrin, CEO of the Paces Centre for Conductive Education and Gabor Fellner Head Teacher, Nonye’s daughter had her first Initial Consultation.

The Sheffield Centre was closer to her family’s residence than our base at the south of England.

This is what Nonye wrote to me after her visit: “Yesterday at Sheffield, I found it difficult to withhold my tears, now I made no effort to stop the tears. Knowing that my child would have been doing a lot better than she is now…”

After returning to Lagos she has been working hard to get things off the ground. The article below is the first public appearance of her vision to bring Conductive Education to Lagos.

Nonye is powerful and very courageous as Norman said to me after meeting her. We all keep our fingers crossed and waiting for more news on the development of her quest.

Unveiling Nonye’s warm hands in the ‘game’ of life…


“The fact that your child has cerebral palsy is not going to change; you have to change! The last thing you deserve to feel is pity, guilt or shame! It is not their fault that they have cp, nor is it fair that they have been dealt the "hand" the game of life has given them.

But it is an opportunity for us to help these children develop their fullest potential while educating them and the society to accept individuals with CP. It is only the parents who can advocate for these children because no one, but the parents, have their interests at heart.”

With this above statements coming from Nonye herself, she unwittingly tells you who and what she stands for. And if your inner mind doing a quick check on every member of your family as she reels out some salient tips to watch out for, then you realise, you’re in for an educative and informative time with this kind woman of deep inner feelings for the deprived and denied in the society.

With arms akimbo, you replay her questions one after the other in your mind as you struggle to provide some answers. Ever observed that your child has delayed milestones such as controlling head, rolling over, reaching with one hand, sitting without support, crawling, or walking? Then, it is called Cerebral Palsy (CP).

The Cerebral Palsy Center is a Non Profit Organisation started by Nonyelum Nweke in February, 2010 to cater to the needs of children with Cerebral Palsy.

This Center was started with the hope that children with the defined condition will live happily with their families not in institutions, and get help in achieving their potentials to become productive adults living with their disabilities, even among their peers.

The Center provides early intervention services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education services. It also gives information on newer alternative therapies. Most of these therapies work on the principle of neuroplasticity of the brain.

But how did this woman of passion and large heart come about this Centre? Nonye explains in her very words, hear her: "Chizimuzondu (Zimuzo as fondly called) was adopted as a six day old baby. She gave so much joy to her mother (still does) who adopted her because she did not have a baby of her own but had so much love to give. However, she noticed after a couple of months that Zimuzo was not developing appropriately, she was not achieving her developmental milestones. At four months she was yet to hold up her head, reach for toys or do any of the things babies her age would do. She used to shake and shiver like she was always cold, what Nonye now knows to be spasm and seizures. Her concern was dismissed by a doctor with a wave of hand, saying that some babies are naturally slow developers.”

At five months, Zimuzo was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) at Owerri Sick Bay, a private children’s hospital in Owerri, Eastern state of Nigeria. Coincidentally, Zimuzo was adopted from Owerri through the Ministry of Women Development and Social Welfare. The doctor, the owner of the hospital advised Nonye to take back the child to the ministry that she would not be able to take care of such a child.

On getting to the ministry, Nonye met with the head of the unit, Madu, who insisted that she leave the child, that, she would not be able to take care of the child, assuring her that they would arrange for another baby for her. When asked by Nonye what would happen to the baby, she said they would just leave her in the orphanage. Nonye, according to her, had not heard the word Cerebral Palsy prior to that day, but from the way the lady was going about it and the doctor’s reaction, she knew that it was a huge issue.

“I left Zimuzo, much as I hated to do that, went back to Lagos and started reading Cerebral Palsy from the internet. I called my friends and informed them of my predicament, and how I wanted to go back and take that baby, all advised me not to, that it is an uphill task to take care of a baby like that. The more I read about the condition CP, the more I was convinced that I needed to go back for the baby, convinced that such a baby needed a mother to love her specially, she must not be a number in the midst of many. In less than a week, I had read enough to convince myself that the baby needed a lot of help which only a mother can offer her. I picked her back and I am glad she is part of my life till date,” Nonye declares enthusiastically.

Continuing on the establishment of the Center, “At the CP Center, we encourage parents to register their children as soon they are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy because early intervention therapy is the key to successful rehabilitation. With proper management and adequate therapy, children from the center can function well in regular schools. We advocate their inclusion in these schools. The Center provides physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapies. It also provides the services of special educators and information on cerebral palsy in general. Families of children with CP are welcomed in the center to interact with their children and with each other. This Center is not just a place therapy, but a place where families can find each other, share joys, heartaches and learn from experiences gained from raising children with Cerebral Palsy.”

And to the government, she admonishes, “The government needs to support children with CP. Support our center in our attempt to bring in Conductive Education to Nigeria. Conductive Education was started inHungary in the 1940s purely for children with CP and motor issues. Today, it is entrenched in UKeducation curriculum and it is free. For me, I have long since accepted that God allowed me to adopt a child with CP, I no longer ask why , instead I ask how I can possibly met my daughter's needs, help her achieve her fullest potential and walk the part God has placed before me, hence I ask, CHIZIMUZONDU!!!”


Further Reading:

No comments: