In October, 2002, we took a 4-year old girl into our home so she could have the care she needs and deserves.
Vidalia was crippled from birth, left to crawl on the dirt
floor of the shack she shares with her parents and six
She was many times locked in their tin shack home, left alone on the dirt floor all day, crawling on her hands
in her own feces, with little food. She is so malnourished,
the specialist says she is dying a slow painful death;
she might die within five months. We decided to care for
her in our home, with the goal of not only making sure
she will survive, but that she will be able to walk some day.
Vidalia, cleaned up & smiling
Background - "Can you help my children to walk?", the young mother pleaded.
We first found out about Vidalia in early 2001. Her mother, 26-years old with six other children, came to the clinic with Vidalia and her 19 month-old brother, who is also disable with club feet. "Can you help make my children walk?", she asked Anita.
We have many times since then, visited their home, a small dirt-floor shack with corn stalks for walls. They have no money for food, so we supplied food, fortified milk and medicines.
We have taken Vidalia and her brother to the hospital many times, as well, and
had a cast put on her brother's leg. Vidalia's situation, while always bad, had recently taken a turn for the worst, and we could see she was wasting away.
We are sorry to say that the mother has not taken an interest in caring for her
or her handicapped brother. The mother has thrown away vitamins we gave
her, not given the nutrient supplements, hasn't kept her clean and hasn't
brought her to the clinic when she has been sick. We suspect that she would
just as soon allow Vidalia to die. We were very concerned.
Vidalia's Condition Worsens - "I just want to die..", the 4-year old sobs.
As the malnutrition caused further damage to her insides, and the fractured bones caused so much pain, Vidalia began crying as much as eight hours a day, interrupted by short, periods of fitful sleeping, worn out from the pain and crying.
"Why can't I just die and go underground- I hurt so much." , Vidalia asked her
mother. Other times she would sob "You don't want me, why can't I go live with Anita".
On October 27th, 2002, we got permission from her mother to pick her up
and bring her to live with us for awhile. At four and a half years old, she
weighs about 19 lbs. She is still living with us and has learned English!
One of the first things Anita did when we got her home was to give her a warm
bath - her first one ever! Vidalia was so filthy, and her hair was full of bugs
and lice. Anita shampooed her hair twice. Another shampoo the morning after got rid of the bugs.
Vidalia was born with clubbed feet, and her upper thigh muscles are severely contracted. However, we believe that with several operations and intensive therapy, she can walk normally; this might be a two-year process. She
will need to have her leg muscles cut to extend them, injections of botox,
orthopedic surgery on her feet, casts, braces and lots of physical therapy.
We found out on October 25th, that in early October, 2002, Vidalia's brother
fell on her and broke her leg. But her mother didn't tell us or bring her to the
clinic. The mother has been overwhelmed by caring for these two disabled
children and a new baby. The family lives in much poverty and the mother
works outside the home. The next day after taking her in our home, we
put a cast on her fractured leg.
We also discovered that she has some other bone fractures, and her one arm has had a break and healed improperly, slightly crooked. She had broken ribs sometime earlier this year which have also healed improperly causing her back to be deformed. Her wrists and elbow joints are severely twisted from using her hands as "feet" to crawl around.
Her bones are so fragile that the slightest bump could cause a fracture. She will need to have some bones re-broken and reset, as well as casts and braces. Poor little thing.
Vidalia hadn't smiled in three years, lived in the dirt and recently had been crying
for eight hours a day from the terrible pain. But after two weeks living at our home
she started to eat well and smile, and we have high hopes for her.
Later, when her body is well and her bones have grown stronger, she will need a
series of operations to straighten her legs. Then casts, braces and therapy for up
to two years will be required. Finally, we hope to report that she will be able to
walk and run!
Vidalia's new name is Hannah, click here to read an update!