Alphonse sitting in his wheelchair

One year ago, 4-year-old Alphonse was making the short walk home from his child development center with his friends in Gasutamo, Rwanda. They had just finished classes for the day and instead of walking straight home he and his friends decided to wander into a busy section of town.

His mother sells vegetables on the street outside their home and she would watch for him to come running down the road from the center. But this day, he never made it home.

"I waited for my son to come home from school but he did not return," recalled Alphonse's mother, Nzayisenga Marie.

Marie went to the center to ask if they had seen her son, but they last saw him walking in the direction of his home with his friends. Concerned, the staff members and Marie started walking through the streets to find him. The search continued throughout the night.

They found out, through talking to his young friends, that Alphonse had been hit by a car and taken to a local hospital. The other children, only 4 years old, ran away from the scene in terror.

Marie and Ignance, the director of the child development center, rushed to the hospital and found Alphonse lying in a bed, unconscious.

"Alphonse was breathing very lightly and was very still. Although there were no bloodstains on him, he seemed very lifeless," Ignace said. His mother broke down into tears and his father stared at his little boy in shock.

Alphonse spent three months in a coma. Compassion staff members worked hard to connect him to the best care, and he was transferred to a more advanced hospital. The doctors said he had suffered loss of consciousness due to severe head trauma, but he eventually opened his eyes and began the long journey to recovery.

Alphonse was left paralyzed from the waist down and rest of his body was severely weakened from the accident. The Compassion center provided him with a wheelchair and he began weekly physical therapy. A majority of Alphonse's medical bills were taken care of through Compassion's support, and Alphonse has made great strides toward recovery.

"Poverty kills," said the center's social health worker. "There were some necessary medical tests that were crucial for Alphonse's treatment that his family would not have been able to afford without the center's support. If he were not in Compassion's program, he would have died."

Before the accident, Alphonse liked to play soccer and used to run around and play hide and seek with his friends. Today, he has learned that he now enjoys playing games like marbles and puzzles with his friends at the center.

"Alphonse can now hear and he can see better, which was not the case right after the accident. He can clap his hands and play with toys and remember people," Ignace said. "There was a time when he used to be sad because he was in a wheelchair, unable to move by himself, but his attitude changed with time through the counseling and encouragement and prayers of the church. Today Alphonse is happy and can laugh."

Alphonse's mother cannot imagine what would have happened without the support they received from his child development center and Compassion supporters. "I thank those who supported our child all through his treatment after the accident," said Marie. "I pray for God's blessing upon them because I know God knows their names."

Alphonse and his family
Alphonse's mother holds him on her back as they smile for the photo