“I learnt that I should not hide her inside but I should encourage people around her to love her."

My daughter did not cry when she was born. And she did not seem to be able to hear anything. For the first four months of her life she was in hospital, as she had malaria. The doctors did not explain anything about her condition to me or my wife, they just discharged her and told us she had a spine problem.

When I went to ask them why she did not cry, they told me I would just have to wait and that she may or may not develop the ability to cry.

My wife left me when my daughter was eight months old. She never gave me a reason. One day I went to work and when I came back, my wife had gone, leaving my daughter. 

Life was very difficult after that. At one point, I decided that I could not look after Mariam alone. I decided to abandon her with her grandparents. I got on the bus to take her there… but on the bus, a gentleman began talking to me and I told him about my situation.

He said that Mariam was my blood. She was what God had given me and I should not abandon her. I took courage from this.

I used to take Mariam to work with me, because I don’t have any family to help me look after her. Everyone was kind to her and encouraged me to look after her, so I took a lot of courage from that also. But it was still very difficult.

I used to wake up in the morning and look at her and think that there is no hope for her in the future. I used to worry all the time that I could not look after her.

When Mariam was about two years old I joined a parent support group and took part in training [on how to care for Mariam]. This was the first time I learnt about cerebral palsy. I learnt how to look after her.

Now I know the signs that mean she is hungry. I know what she needs and how to feed her, and I can make her happy. I like playing with her and doing her exercises with her. 

I have learnt to dress Mariam properly, like any other child, to show her she is loved and so that she gets more respect from those around her. I know how to interpret her signals, so I can tell what she likes and doesn’t like.

The training gave me a lot of confidence, and more courage to stay with my child. I learnt that I should not hide her inside, but that I should encourage people around her to love her also.

The other parents gave me courage that I can manage and I should keep my daughter with me. A mentor taught us not to overprotect our children, so that they can learn.

My daughter is happier now. She is less stressed. I can see that she recognises me and knows I am her father.

I would like to tell other parents like me that they should not lose confidence, and we should continue looking after our children.

Help parents like John access the support they need by buying a parent carer training session from our range of Gifts in Motion.

A Gift in Motion is a virtual gift with a difference; your loved one will receive a gift card they can feel truly proud of whilst making a lasting change to someone in the developing world.

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