Joy, an eight-year-old girl from Malawi, hated going to school. Her classmates mocked her mercilessly because of the way she looked, and her teacher did nothing about it.
“We found out that Joy was skipping classes,” said Joy’s mother, Maria. “She was passing through the local shops so she did not have to go to school. She would wait until the day was over to go home, so her classmates would leave her alone.”
Joy has Blount’s disease, a growth disorder that causes her tibia to angle inward. The abnormal rotation of her lower leg is startling to see; in some cases, it’s the only thing people see when they look at Joy. They don’t see a determined child whose favourite colour, red, speaks volumes about her boldness. They don’t see an older sister who dotes on her two-year-old baby brother as much as she fights with him. They don’t see an athlete who plays soccer in spite of her disability. They don’t see a girl who dreams of one day being a teacher, just like her father. They only see a disability, and their short sightedness means they miss out on getting to know a fantastic kid.
When her parents found out Joy was skipping school, they didn’t get angry. They knew her classmates treated her poorly, so they found a new school for their daughter to attend, one led by a pastor, where students are taught to value diversity and where discrimination is not allowed. Joy’s parents advocate for her education because they are the kind of people willing to fight for their child. They have the kind of faith that can move mountains, and they refused to give up hope of healing for Joy. After every disappointment and dead end, Maria, a prayer warrior, just kept praying.
When Joy was little, her parents sought answers at a local hospital. Doctors told them she had rickets, which can indeed cause bowed legs. Unfortunately, it was a misdiagnosis, and after a year of treatment, Joy’s leg was even worse off than before.
Doctors assured the concerned parents that Joy was young and that her bones were still soft, so they shouldn’t worry. Eventually, a physician referred the family to MACOHA (the Malawi Council for the Handicapped), who in turn referred Joy to CURE Malawi. At CURE, the family finally received the correct diagnosis and, more importantly, hope for a cure.
We wouldn’t be able to share Joy’s story if it wasn’t for your support. Please help us continue to heal more children who are suffering unnecessarily from a correctable disability.
Article by Holly Jennings