Our meeting with “Odhis” as he indicated he loved to be called, was a chance meeting. There were many odds that stood against us, but somehow, after 21 years of living with a disability, God charted a way and we finally met. Odhis was born with bilateral clubbed feet, in an interior village called Sori, in Migori county. At the time of his birth, his parents did not know that there were corrective interventions available for the condition. Initially, his condition did not bother him much, but as he approached his teen years, his realization peeked made worse by the taunting and stigma extended towards him. The process of getting to understand his condition, his limitations was unfortunately coupled with a decline in performance in school that resulted in having to repeat two school years. Thankfully, he successfully navigated the phase gaining acceptance for his condition and focusing his attention on the things that were in his control, most importantly being his education.
In his first year of high school, Odhis developed spine pain, it was so painful he had to go to hospital. Thankfully, after a couple of hospital visits, and tests he was given a diagnosis. Odhis had a straight spine, an abnormality of sorts since the spine usually adopts a curved formation. He was started on physiotherapy. Slowly, as his physiotherapist. Gabriel took him through treatment, they formed a trusting relationship. “He spoke to me so well, and finally convinced me to consider surgery.” Odhis told us in Swahili. For the first time in his life, he finally considered surgery. Not only did the physiotherapist convince him about surgery to correct his feet, but he also linked him to CURE. “I do not know why I was against surgery back then, but gradually, Gabriel helped to change my mind about it and I am now looking forward to it” Odhis told us smiling.
Even though he is looking forward to surgery, it was clear that he was not approaching matters blindly, “how long will the whole process take? Will it interfere with my KCSE examinations next year, can it be done over the holiday? Does my age have any effect on the healing process? Did my feet cause the spine condition?” It was evident that his excitement and anxiety were present in almost equal measure but as we chatted and answered his questions, the anxiety was slowly replaced by exciting thoughts of what the future will look like once the surgery was done. “I want to do Economics,” he told us, pausing slightly “because I love math and I love money” he concluded laughing shyly. For his mother, her desire is simple,” I just want to see his feet looking straight” Both mother and son have attainable dreams, and this is only possible if we walk alongside them to make it a reality.