06 June 2011

Adventures in WheelChair Building: Part 3

The final chapter.

I was in the OR Bloc today when a guy who works in came into tell me that Granny was here with R.

The chair was finished and had been in my office for several weeks, taking up space while waiting for them to come back for another check-up (and for me to sew a cover for the cushion . . . which, I still hadn't done).

I came out and greeted Granny, ready to tell her that the cushion would be done this afternoon (I know, I know!! I'm the world's worst procrastinator . . . I have wonderful intentions, then think 'Oh, there's plenty of time!'  FAMOUS LAST WORDS!).  But much to my surprise, Granny didn't let me get that far.  'R.'s standing!' she blurted.  I didn't believe it.  'No, really!  She is.  Watch!'  And Granny took her little hands and gently guided R. to her feet!  She was wobbly and unsure of her footing, but she was standing with only Min-Mod Assist from Granny!  She sat down.  Awed, I wanted a try too.  R. took my hands and pulled herself up to her feet.  The OT in me couldn't help myself, I tugged and started walking  backward.  An unsteady R. lifted her right foot and leg.  With a lot of help for her balance, she took a step!  We made it three before she wiped out . . . ama, akwai tafiya!  (But, there was walking!)

In the heat of the excitement, I confessed to Granny that the cushion wasn't finished.  'Don't worry about it, we have one at home we can use!  We'll take the chair now' (okay, so really all I understood was 'akwai . . . gidanmu . . . ba komi'--'there is . . . our house . . . no problem').  So I went to my office and dusted off the chair (no, literally . . . my office windows have been open during some pretty bad windstorms and the wheelchair had a thick layer of rust-colored dust coating it).

When I brought it back and showed them how it can recline and how to strap her in with the harness, Granny showered me with more 'Na Gode's ('I am thankful's) than I've ever received.  She just wouldn't stop.  Then she started with the French Merci's and the English Thank you's.  I responded appropriately in each language.

Then the tears started.

I've only seen three Nigeriens cry since I arrived four months ago.  But today was the first time I've seen one cry tears of joy.

She took my hand and kissed it over and over.  I assured her that this was a gift from God, and He should receive the thanks.  But I guess since His hand wasn't available this morning, mine was going to have to do.

Finally, wrapped my free hand around her and hugged her tightly.  She let go of my hand and returned the embrace.

Granny has been faithfully caring for R. since she contracted Cerebral Malaria a year ago.  She stretches her joints daily to fight against contractures.  She includes R. in everything and refuses to give up on her.  Her life revolves around the car of this little girl.  And for the past year, Granny has been carrying R. on her back everywhere she goes.

Until today.

So our next project is a kiddo-sized walker.  Because I hear miracles happen at Galmi.


Barb said...

Beautiful, Deb!  You are a blessing and you are blessed!  

Bobnrobn said...

and she didn't even read your message on "the lost art of appreciation!!"  What a wonderful blessing provided by GOD for Granny, R., and last, but not least, you......xoxoxo

Shal said...

Priceless, Deb. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Kari said...

Awesome!  That's why you're there, right?! :)