A Day in the Life of a Child: Basham
I am Basham, a three-year-old boy who came to Amani Baby Cottage as an infant, abandoned at a local children’s hospital along with my older brother. I have cerebral palsy, epilepsy, brain blindness (my eyes are fine, but my brain doesn’t process the signals), I am unable to speak, and I have recently been classified as failure to thrive because I was losing weight. All of these factors make me a very unique child at Amani with a different day-to-day experience.
I used to live with the seven toddler boys in Cottage A, but a couple of weeks ago when four now-walking babies were moved from the nursery to Cottage A, it was decided the nursery, with only three remaining babies, would be a quieter, less stressful home for me. Living with those seven toddler boys in Cottage A was a bit of a wild experience since I am unable to defend myself from projectile toys being flung across the room, and curious two-year-olds wanting to talk to me (or poke, climb, and otherwise “assist”).
I take a lot of medication and I really don’t like it. I get pills that are small and I can chew them, but they’re bitter and it makes me mad. I also get some syrup that the mama has to work very hard to get in me. These are treatment for the epileptic seizures and my spastic muscles. I have so many seizures throughout the day! We haven’t yet found the right medicine or dosing to keep my seizures more manageable, but we’re working on it.
When I awaken around 6:00 a.m., the night mama will feed me a bottle of milk. By 9:00 a.m. it’s morning naptime. The babies sleep until 10:30, but since I’m three years old, I only sleep about an hour. After nap, it is time for porridge. Auntie Jaja (an older, long-term volunteer from Texas) has been assigned to my special care, so she works with me in my physical therapy, including massaging my back, arms, and legs, stretching my hard, spastic muscles in my arms and frog-position legs, and exercises to strengthen my back so maybe I can learn to sit up and crawl one day (would be so cool). She really speaks a lot of love to me while she works on my body, and I love it! I’m getting stronger and more flexible, and she makes me laugh. My bonding time with Auntie Jaja has resulted in significant improvements in my joy, not to mention my increased eye activity (since it is possible for me to regain vision through attention and stimulation). I smile and “talk” so much more these days.
Auntie Jaja also specially prepares my nutrient-rich food throughout the day which will help me gain weight to get the “failure to thrive” classification removed from my file. She makes foods that are mashed to a soft baby/early toddler food consistency or liquified for a bottle: avocado, banana, milk, bread, egg, carrots, potato, matooke, peanut butter, and other common foods that are easily available to my family (in hope of reunification with them very soon). Because of reflux common to children like me, I have to eat my meals sitting upright, and then remain in that position for 30 minutes after I eat. This requires Auntie Jaja to firmly hold him in this position for this hour-long process since I cannot sit up on my own, and my back and hips are very rigid. I resist it a lot, which is really helping Auntie Jaja get strong arms. I can tell she really appreciates the extra exercise. After lunch is a two-hour nap. At 3:00 I get another snack of porridge or healthy bottle Auntie Jaja has made. I am then strapped into my special wheelchair and go outside to spend a couple of hours in the fresh air. I like being outside, but after awhile the chair gets uncomfortable so one of the aunties will hold me for awhile. My friends love to visit with me and push me in my stroller around the yard.
By about 5:30, Auntie Jaja has made my supper. After that hour-long process, I am bathed, diapered, pajama’d and put to bed at about 7:00 p.m. I dream of how much love I am getting at Amani, and of my family who will welcome me home someday.