Safi's Procedure on
"I wanted to give up, but we kept going. We knew Safi's legs were treatable!" Safi's grandmother Mariama tells us smugly. Safi was born much like other children, but soon after birth, her legs began to bend and bow outwards. People in their village… Read more
"I wanted to give up, but we kept going. We knew Safi's legs were treatable!" Safi's grandmother Mariama tells us smugly. Safi was born much like other children, but soon after birth, her legs began to bend and bow outwards. People in their village advised Safi's family not to worry and that her legs would straighten out with time, but as Safi got older, her legs just began to bend more and more. As a result, Safi has been held back from school as most of the other children her age have recently started. The other children tease her incessantly and her family knows just how much worse it will be in a larger school environment. In Niger, there is not a lot of understanding about disability. People often believe conditions like bow legs are a result of a curse or maybe punishment for some sin. So besides the teasing, there is also the fear that more people finding out about Safi's condition will bring judgement and difficulty on Safi's entire family. Thankfully though, one person did find out about Safi - a local pastor. This pastor is part of the CURE Niger network of pastors and was able to share with Safi's parents about the work we do here. Having finally found the method of treatment their hearts always knew was possible, Safi and her grandmother Mariama have made the journey here to CURE Niger where Safi will get the surgery she needs to straighten her legs and send her home walking proudly!
Safi is back! When Salamatou from our spiritual team ran into her this morning, she was so surprised and excited to see her old friend - as you can see, the feeling was mutual. "Look at you! You're walking so well now!" Salamatou told her after demanding Safi show her her progress. Dr. Karim agrees: Safi's healed well from her surgery to correct bowed legs, but there's still one more thing - the bone condition (which explains why seven-year-old Safi is so short) has caused her lower and upper legs to grow disproportionally long. "It might be possible to correct it," said Dr. Karim. "But we have to see what Dr. Shelley (our incoming orthopedic surgeon) thinks." Safi will go home for a while, and when Dr. Shelley is here, we'll call her for another appointment - it shouldn't be too long until then. Praise God that Safi's bowed legs are basically healed and that she can walk again! And please keep praying for her complete healing - that God would make a way for her legs to be fully restored to their correct proportions.
For the first time since surgery, Safi's starting to walk again! And because she's doing so well, today she'll be going home for the next two months. This morning we ran into her mom while she was getting everything together for the journey - Mariam doesn't speak the same language as most of the other people at CURE Niger and it's rare that she will try to communicate with us, but this morning she made it a point to talk to us in the few words of French she knows - "Merci," (thank you) she said. We could tell she really meant it.
This morning Safi got goofy posing outside Dr. Karim's office with her half-finished coloring page. It was a busy day for her - right after we took this picture she went in for a doctor's appointment, then got all three of the remaining pins out of her legs (meaning her bones are healing up nicely!) and is now resting at the guesthouse before going to watch the Jesus film later this afternoon. "Once the wounds from her pins are healed, she can be discharged!" Dr. Karim told us. We know Safi's excited to see her family again - please pray that she can go home soon!
We caught Safi at the guesthouse inventing yet another one of her games - she was engrossed in tipping a chair backwards and trying to catch it just before it hit the ground. The speed and precision at which her arms react is very impressive, and we hope that once her legs heal, they'll have great reflexes too! She also had a doctors appointment where they said she is doing great, and they'll check in again in another few weeks. Until then she'll stay here and continue to do more physical therapy exercises until her legs heal to the point where she can start walking again!
Mariam had no problem wheeling Safi and her little brother back from Safi's bandage change this morning. "I was the first one!" Safi shouted to us, excited to be done so early! Her legs keep doing better and better, and as long as her mom's so on top of her treatment, we have high hopes! "She is a very special kid to me and I will do whatever for her healing," says Mariam.
Today Safi is doing great. "My leg doesn't hurt and I feel very good," she said in a small voice. She is normally quiet but today she seemed to be more in her element. "What is school like?" she asked us. We chatted for what seemed like an hour. "I will be going to school when I can walk," she tells us with a smile - many people (and especially girls) in Niger don't have the chance to go to school, so we're really excited for her.
This morning Safi and the other guesthouse patients got gifts, brand new clothes! After Safi received hers, she sat next to her mother watching the other kids try on their new threads. "I am happy she got new clothes," her mother said excitedly. "Safi has become a woman" another mother jokingly told Safi's mother. The seven-year-old's legs are continuing to heal - unfortunately last night she had a stomach ache, but after some meds everything went well. Keep Safi in your prayers as she fully heals.
Even though Safi isn't able to participate in all our art therapy activities, she's happy to sit at the side and blow bubbles! This morning she had another bandage change and even though she's not walking yet, she's getting closer and closer every day!
This afternoon Safi and her baby brother hung out while their mom napped next to them. During hot season in Niger it's not always easy to sleep through the night, so lots of people end up needing a bit of a siesta. Fortunately Safi knows how to entertain herself and play quietly - she's probably one of the calmest seven-year-olds we've ever met!
Safi is definitely NOT giving Samilou her broom, no matter how many heart stickers he has plastered all over his face. Here in Niger most parents can't afford to buy their kids toys, so kids know how to make toys out of everything!
Safi poses for us while she waits for physical therapy this morning. After she finished her exercises we read her and her mom some of your get well messages - “I too will be praying for them," responded her mom. "Tell them thank you.”
“Back home, I like to play Jawo Maida with my friends,” Safi told us quietly today. Jawo Maida is a game where you dig a large enough hole in the dirt to fit ten small rocks in - in turn, the players throw a separate rock in the air and immediately try to pull the ten rocks out of the hole, then catch the other rock before it hits the ground. Then they do almost the same thing - throwing the rock in the air and trying to put only nine rocks back in the hole before their other rock hits the ground…it’s a speedy game and Safi is really good at it. Almost all the times we’ve seen her play here she comes out the winner. We’re glad she’s having fun and showing her competitive side while she stays at our guesthouse during some follow-up treatment this week.
Safi is so patient - we've actually never seen her cry or throw a fit like other kids do. She's been in a lot of doctors' appointments lately, and she only ever waits quietly by her mom's side, flashing us the occasional smile when she feels confident. "Her legs are feeling much better now," Safi's mom told us, "All of her pain is gone!" Since bowed-leg surgery can be very intensive and require a long recovery time, it's such good news that Safi is feeling this good - pray that soon she would be able to start walking on her newly-straight legs!
Despite inter-city travel being restricted, Safi managed to make it back to CURE Niger for her latest check-up! During her surgery, pins were pit in her legs to help her bones heal properly. Now that she's progressing well our doctors were able to take out two of the pins! She'll be staying at our guesthouse until her follow-up appointment next week.
"I could never have imagined her legs so straight- my mind is blown!" said Safi's mom today. You might remember that when Safi first came to CURE Niger, her legs were badly bowed outward, almost forming a full circle. Since the operation to straighten them, she's been back for several cast changes - yesterday she had another one. We hope that one day soon she will be able to walk tall with those mind-blowingly straight legs!
Safi came back for a check-up today and everything is looking good. She's staying at our guesthouse tonight since she's from a region in Niger that's only safe to travel to during the day. She doesn't seem to mind and is hanging out with all the guesthouse kids just like she used to. Pray for her safe return and that peace would be restored to her region.
Safis' grandmother Mariama weighed the pros and cons and decided that since Safi's medical checkup isn't for another five weeks, they would go home and rest there before coming back for her check up. It's a long trip, but nothing beats a solid month at home with family and friends!
It's incredible how well Safi is doing. Most kids are a little sore and unhappy right after their surgery, but Safi is already back to her happy little self. Her grandmother went out this morning and bought her a baguette so that might have something to with it as our bread here in Niger is really good! More good news: the doctors have discharged Safi! Since she lives pretty far away, she'll be staying in our patient guesthouse for a bit so she has easy access to our medical services as she heals up.
And with that, Safi has had her surgery! The doctors straightened both of her legs in the same surgery since she is small enough for her grandmother to carry around during the recovery process. This means, Safi will only need to heal up once instead of twice, literally cutting her healing journey in half!
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