Five year old Eva is a ray of sunshine. She was caught in a house fire early in life, resulting to severe trauma to both of her legs. The trauma to her right leg left her with a sub-par amputation above the knee and the trauma on her left leg left her with an amputation of the foot. Eva was lucky enough to have a previous volunteer fund her first set of prosthesis, but she is currently in need of a new pair. She is growing ulcers under each amputation site and needs a prosthetic with a knee joint for the left leg. Aside from Eva’s physical handicap, there is nothing that stops this little girl from loving every second of life. She crawls around everywhere when not in her prosthesis or she tugs on arm sleeves for a piggy back ride. Eva is our social butterfly and doesn’t let a single person pass by without a handshake or hello. Once we can get Eva’s legs to where she is comfortable and healthy, we will be graduating her from New Beginning and trying to enroll her into a local primary school.
Collins is 22 years old and is one of our students we have had at New Beginnings from the start. I can guarantee that you won’t be able to hold your smile back when you meet this beautiful soul. Collins has a laugh and smile that is contagious and will light up a room. When Collins was roughly age 6, he acquired an illness that resulted in brain damage. We believe he also sits on the Autism spectrum. This has made it very difficult for him to find his place in his community. Collins had never attended school until New Beginnings and now finds he has a place where he feels he belongs. New Beginnings is somewhere where he can learn, socialize, and be a productive member of his community. Collins really likes to show off his muscles and is willing to help whatever chance he can. Although we do not require our students to wear uniforms, Collins insists. He feels proud and that he is like all the other kids going to school. You will not see this boy out of his “school uniform” while attending New Beginnings. Collins is a breath of fresh air and we are so lucky to have him as a part of our family.
Sirian suffers from epilepsy and we are currently trying to find a way to help control his seizures. As of now, the medications he has tried are not helping. We are currently working with a doctor in the city to run tests and plan for the best way to manage his epilepsy. The big issue right now is coming up with the funding for all of the doctor visits, medication, and transportation. Sirian can walk but only for short distances. On his last visit to the hospital, his mother had to carry him on her back through the streets to get to the hospital. As of now we are also evaluating different ways of transportation for Sirian. It is believed that when he was a young boy he was given an overdose of vaccinations. After this incident, he was left non-verbal and epileptic. He does show signs of understanding and communication. On a good day for Sirian, he will reach out for a hand to hold or even get out of his chair and show he wants to sit on the lap of a volunteer. He is very loving and the staff and volunteers at New Beginnings feel that he is opening up more and more each day with the care he receives from our staff and volunteers.
Whinnie is a 17 year old woman on the Autism spectrum. Just like you and me, she has good days and bad days. On her good days, she loves to dance and interact with her peers and staff. She communicates well, is full of enthusiasm, and shares lots of laughs with the teachers and fellow classmates. She truly impacts the people she meets with her beautiful spirit. Since she is sensitive to noise and invasion of her personal space, she struggles sharing such a small working environment with other classmates. Working alongside males can be very difficult for Whinnie. She finds her safe haven being with Juliet (local student aid) in the kitchen. Whinnie is very proud of the work she completes in class and is always encouraged by those around her which makes her spirits really lift. Beading is one of her favorite hobbies. Each day, we work on rebuilding her self-esteem and confidence. Her smile is contagious and you find yourself smiling for the rest of the day after being around her.
Martin was one of our first individuals to enroll at New Beginnings. When he first started attending the school he was introverted. We believed he lives with a developmental disability which surface in his mannerisms and lack of speech. Martin didn't speak in the early months of attending New Beginnings. It took volunteers working with him over many months to identify his abilities and intelligence. In time, we were able to see that Martin was capable of much more. He started to become verbal with those whom he felt comfortable with. It was then when we learned he was very attentive and good with his hands. Once a volunteer recognized his abilities, they sponsored him to attend a mechanic shop as an intern. The mechanic shop identified the same abilities and shortly Martin was hired on as an employee. It's opportunities like this that Martin would have never had if it weren't for New Beginnings. Martin is one of 3 students we have now been able to graduate into the workforce.
We fell in love with Gertrude from the second we met her. She radiates love and has a smile that lights up a room. This girl loves to dance, anytime, anywhere. She exudes happiness and invites you to join her in authentic connection. Gertrude's diagnosis is uncertain however. She struggles with developmental delays which has kept her out of school for most of her life. She is wheelchair bound and confined to her house. Thanks to New Beginnings, she is able to get out and finally able to be a part of daily activities. Unfortunately, because she is wheelchair bound it is difficult for her to attend our program due to poor road conditions. We are currently in search of a new off roading wheelchair for her. She has developed and grown so much with the skills and stimulation New Beginnings provides. It is a shame when she is held back from something she loves so much do to wheelchair inaccessibility.
Elizabeth is 20 years old and loves to sing; whether it is Bob Marley or a gospel song, she is always singing along. She suffered from a stroke many years ago due of complications associated with her diagnosis of HIV complication. This event also left her wheelchair bound. The cost of physical therapy is too much for her family to afford, but she is still determined to walk. New Beginnings was blessed with a volunteer Occupational Therapist who worked with Elizabeth daily. This intervention allowed her to regain some of her strength and has now been able to walk with a walker. Unfortunately, she can not walk for long distances, and needs her wheelchair to get to and from school. Like Gertrude, this also means missing out on school days due to poor road conditions. Finding an off road wheelchair for Elizabeth is a priority for her if she wants to continue to attend New Beginnings. The program has been so positive for her and has really helped her in gaining back some of her independence.