by Joy Casey 

There are few resources in Ethiopia for children with special needs, yet babies come to us that are impacted with incurable conditions that require intense, ongoing medical care. Our Joyful Place orphanage is not equipped to provide all the support necessary for the healthy and optimum development of a child requiring occupational and physical therapy, assistive devices, and other medical interventions. That is why I am intensely grateful for Uryadi’s Village, a beautiful oasis south of Shashemene that 93 children call home. Many of the children need specialized care, and Uryadi’s Village is expressly set up to provide all that is necessary for a special needs child to flourish and reach maximum potential.

Falmeta came into our care when he was 3 months old. He was found abandoned as a newborn and taken to a hospital where they discovered he had meningitis that resulted in seizures. Both conditions were treated, but then the little guy contracted pneumonia which further weakened his system. After three months in the hospital, Joyful Place wrapped their arms around him hoping that with excellent care they could coax him to health. He did gain weight and was responsive (oh, how he liked to cuddle!), but over the months our nurse felt something was not quite right. He subsequently was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy secondary to meningitis. He also could not see. An ophthalmologist’s examination concluded that the child’s eyes responded to light but the fever from meningitis caused his brain to not respond/process the information. It is hopeful that this condition can get better as Falmeta’s brain develops and by 2-3 years old with the help of eyeglasses, he will be able to see.

The middle of October, one-year-old Falmeta was transferred to Uryadi’s Village where he is in the very best care.  The director of UV states, “Each and every child is special and deserves love and care, some just came into this world a little different. However, we believe different is good and beautiful.”

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye to a little one that has garnered so much love and care from the orphanage staff. We will miss him, but are relieved he is in capable, loving hands. Falmeta is the fourth special needs child from our orphanage UV has warmly received. We are thankful beyond words.