In this week’s post, I’d like to introduce one of Tariro’s youngest students, Noleen C. Noleen is affected by Spina Bifida, a condition in which the spinal column does not fully close while a child is developing in utero. Depending on where the spine fails to close, Spina Bifida can result in differing degrees of severity. Noleen’s condition affects her lower spine, resulting in the paralysis of her lower body.
Tariro began sponsoring Noleen in 2007, paying for her to attend a school for the handicapped run by the Jairos Jiri Association, which runs schools and centers throughout Zimbabwe, assisting over one thousand children and adults with education, skills training, treatment, and care. With physical therapy, Noleen has been learning to stand, but cannot yet walk, because her feet are unable to support her weight. Noleen’s physical therapists have suggested the use of special boots and calipers to reposition the bones in her feet, in the hopes that she will be able to eventually graduate from her wheelchair to a pair of crutches.
Several months after joining Tariro, Noleen’s family moved to the nearby satellite town of Norton, outside of Harare and our normal cachement area of Glen Norah, Highfield, and Epworth. Because of Noleen’s disability, however, Tariro made a commitment to continue sponsoring her education. Noleen is entering the fifth grade at the beginning of the Zimbabwean school year in January, and is learning at grade level.
Noleen’s educational expenses are relatively higher than most of our other students, as she requires $900 per year for her school fees, in addition to $300 more for uniforms and supplies. Tariro is currently seeking a sponsor for this young woman who is interested in supporting a student with disabilities, and committed to working with us as we continue to research options for Noleen’s care and treatment. If you are interested, or know of potential resources for assisting Noleen, please contact me. In particular, we’d like to figure out some way to get a better wheelchair to her, as the one she is currently using is clearly meant for a full-sized adult.
Tariro’s small size and flexibility enables our organization to work closely with students like Noleen, who have special needs. We are proud to be helping to educate and empower this remarkable young woman, among the many wonderful girls we work with!