Rama’s situation was first revealed to us by Maulana, one of the participants at the CNPC training, and a member of the youth volunteer group (Karang Taruna).
Rama is a 12-year-old boy who was completely immobilized from neck down. The exact cause of his condition was never found and a diagnosis was never made. According to his parents, Rama had tripped and fell when he was 2 years old while learning to walk. Since that fateful fall, his development was seriously hindered. Rama’s father brought him to the hospital once, but was so disappointed with the service they received that he completely lost faith in modern medicine and never returned.
Rama’s mother is his main caregiver while his father works as a construction worker. Rama has a 10-year-old brother.
Unable to move, Rama spends his entire day in bed. When we first visited, he could hardly move his head; and when Rachel House’s nurse lifted him up for assessment, the contracture of his muscles made all movement difficult and a challenge for him. Rama’s speech is impaired, but thankfully his sight and hearing seem to be functioning well.
Rama was often troubled by constipation, fever, and a severe cough accompanied by a lot of phlegm largely caused by his immobility. It was a vicious cycle that the family was trapped in: The mother felt humiliated when she used to take Rama out. So in the end she stopped taking him out, leaving and locking Rama alone in the house often when she had to go out. This meant less and less opportunity for Rama to move, to exercise his limbs, complicating the contracture and compromising any chance of improvement.
In spite of all these, Rama has the most infectious smile that brightens up like the sunshine on a rainy day. Since our first visit, more and more smiles are being flashed, and we can see significant improvements, not only in the movement of his head, but the muscle contracture on his limbs has also eased to allow for more movement.
Equipped with the knowledge from the CNPC training, Maulana has become more sensitised to the condition of many children living with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses in his community. Maulana now visits Rama almost everyday, even if it is just stopping by to say hello on his way home from work.
Thanks to Maulana’s discovery, the local puskesmas (primary health clinic) has now been informed of Rama’s condition and the medical professionals from the puskesmas are now making a monthly visit to help monitor Rama’s condition. A weekly physiotherapy has also been organized to help ease the contracture of his limbs.
In August, accompanied by Maulana and with the help of many friends, Rama and his family spent their evening at the pasar malam nearby. It was Rama’s very first trip out of his house! He was beaming with smiles throughout the evening as he went round and round the pasar malam (amusement park) in the wheelchair, escorted by Maulana and his father. Rama even got to ride on the Ferris wheel – the three men looked very happy; and so were the friends who made the evening possible. A joyous celebration of life.