Disabled Toddler Finds Healing

Disabled Toddler Finds Healing

Child Survival Program brings healing to a toddler's twisted and crippled legs.

By: Adele Marie Berg, Field Communications Specialist in Peru   |   Posted: August 23, 2010

Thanks to the Child Survival Program, Johnny is able to get treatment and wear an orthopedic support device that will help to straighten and strengthen his legs.

Johnny, a toddler enrolled at a Compassion Child Survival Program (CSP) in Peru, enjoys confidently running around the house, cheering to everyone there.

There was once a time when Johnny's parents wondered if he would even walk.

But today, those who know Johnny are sure he will continue going through life with a cheerful face and a grateful heart all because a group of kindhearted people decided to support the Iglesia Evangelica de Cristo del Peru Child Survival Program (CSP), where he and his mother Tatiana are registered.

Tatiana noticed that at a time when most toddlers are learning to stand and walk, her son's legs wouldn't cooperate.

"When Johnny turned 15 months old, he still was struggling to walk," says Tatiana. "Whenever he tried to take some steps, his legs and feet used to entangle, making him fall over."

When her CSP promoter came to their home for a regular visit, Tatiana shared her concerns. A few days later Johnny had an appointment with a rehabilitation physician who visits each Child Survival Program on a regular basis. The physician checks on the babies and toddlers who appear to have physical disabilities that could impede their development.

Seeking a Treatment

After he was thoroughly examined, Johnny was sent with his mother to St. John's Hospital, a Catholic charity hospital for people with disabilities.

"An x-ray was ordered to find out if the disability had to do with a malformation of the hips," says Johnny's father. "If that was the case, Johnny had to undergo surgery and then be put in casts."

The x-ray showed the exact cause of Johnny's inability to walk, but it had nothing to do with his hips. The problem begins at both knees and extends to his feet. The treatment would be less traumatic and would take less recovery time.

"Johnny was born normal, but when the time came for Johnny to begin walking, his crooked legs and twisted feet did not help at all," explains atiana, who has been enrolled in the Child Survival Program since she was three months pregnant.

A Dedicated Mother

Tatiana is a housewife and her husband is a taxicab driver. They have five children: Tatiana, 15, Naomi, 12, Salim, 6, Franchesco, 4, and Johnny, who is 1 year and 8 months old.

Tatiana is a devoted and loving mother, but usually needs help  with chores. After school, on weekends, and on vacation time the two older daughters help take care of their younger siblings so their mom can go buy groceries, cook the meal, and wash the family's clothes.

Meanwhile, Johnny, being a healthy baby, enjoyed his time  under the care of his older sisters. However, his sisters made him stand on his feet from the time he was 3 months old, which may have been the cause of his curved legs and feet.

Thanks to God and to the Child Survival Program, Johnny has a chance to develop normally.

The Recovery Process

Now Johnny uses an orthopedic device while he is sleeping to keep his knees, legs and feet in a normal position. He also wears orthopedic shoes to walk during the day.

Johnny has to be taken to St. John's Hospital quarterly to check his progress. Additionally, the rehabilitation physician who visits the CSP child development center every month is keeping track of Johnny's development during his recovery process, which will take about two years.

"Johnny needs to do several different exercises that I have been taught by the physician, which he seems to enjoy," says Tatiana. "Also, I take my time to sing him some songs from church."  says.

The Child Survival Program paid for Johnny's treatment at St. John's, as well as for his orthopedic devices.

Tatiana regularly practices the stimulation exercises with Johnny that help him develop physically and emotionally. But since Johnny needs to practice some different types of exercises, he enjoys special time that his mother gives only to him.

"If we had to do all the treatment on our own, we probably would have to use all our money only to help Johnny, being unable to meet our other children's needs except those that are basic," says Johnny's father. "And we probably would have delayed the treatment."

The Laborers Community

The family lives in a poor neighborhood called "The Laborers Community" that is part of a district located in Lima City. The community was built by the government to benefit laborers who did not have property and were already retired. Tatiana's father was one of those laborers who received property and lived there for many years with his wife and three daughters.

Tatiana's father passed away several years ago, but his elderly wife and her three daughters continue living in the same house. Now, each daughter has married and lives there together with her husband and children, which makes the house extremely crowded. There are 11 children and seven adults living in the small home.

Knowing Jesus

Johnny's treatment is not the only thing having an impact on the family. The entire family is also undergoing a spiritual change that began with Johnny's father.

"My mother was invited on one occasion to a church campaign, and committed her life to Jesus," Johnny's father says. "Sometime later my siblings, together with their spouses and children, did the same, and one day I also accepted Jesus."

He began attending church with his mother and relatives. They met at the church building where the Compassion program functions -- a connection that would later play an important role in Tatiana's decision to accept Jesus as her Savior.

"When I found out that I was expecting a fifth child I became anxious not knowing what to do," Tatiana says. "We were running desperate, not having enough to support four children, and suddenly one more child was on the way."

Desperation Prompts a Decision

At that time she did not want to do anything with the new church her husband was attending. She did not want to hear anything about the gospel.

Meanwhile, important changes were taking place in Johnny's father's life. He had stopped swearing. He had become more courteous and kind at home. His bad temper was gone, so much so that even his two daughters who used to fear their father began approaching him to talk about their concerns and everyday life.

Despite the changes in Johnny's father's life, Tatiana was not happy. On the contrary, she had even forbidden her husband to take the children to Sunday school. But when Tatiana found out she was pregnant again and did not know how the family would ever afford another child, her desperation led her to the church.

Embraced by Love and Compassion

"One day my mother-in-law came home to tell me that there was a special program for needy pregnant mothers at her church," says Tatiana. "And she told me to get ready to go with her to get enrolled." Though initially reluctant, Tatiana decided to go. "With things as they were I could not reject anything," she says.

"What impacted me most was the team of kind and warm-hearted ladies who treated me like a queen and enrolled me at the CSP program," she says. "Since then I have not missed any CSP meeting except when I went to the hospital to give birth to Johnny." 

Now Tatiana has also received Jesus as her Savior and is attending a Bible study group near her home. On Sundays the entire family attends service, and they have learned to trust in Jesus. They all can look forward with a confident and cheerful attitude, just as Johnny does when running around the house.

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