Valens Niyonsenga, 15 years old
Valens is disabled both physically and mentally. After his birth, his father and his father’s family rejected Valens and his mother, Theresa. The family believed that there were demons inside of Theresa that were the root cause of his condition. His mother has looked for therapy and care everywhere she knows how, turning to every health center andenduring several transfers. Valens now receives medication to control his disease. Valens’s brother named Pascal who sadly passed in February 2018. Before Pascal passed, Theresa was away taking care of him had left Valens with his father. When she returned, she found her husband had completely neglected Valens never giving him a single dose of his medication. Regrettably, this pattern continued. In 2010,Theresa was able to provide Valens with physiotherapy for a few months which helped his body become more balanced. He was able to sit up straight and almost stand (with a chair). However, after a family emergency, Theresa again had to leave Valens with her husband. Upon returning, she found that the husband was still neglecting Valens. His body regressed back into the same condition as before therapy.
In April 2018, all of the mothers and fathers caring for children with disabilities in Bumbogo attended a reconciliation workshop. During the workshop, both mothers and fathers came together to learn more about the disabilities of their children and to ask forgiveness from their children whom they judged unfairly in the past. Theresa reports that after this workshop her husband has been a better caregiver for their son. He understands now that the disease is not from a demon or a curse but simply an unexplainable defect in biology. Theresa has more peace than ever before. She can confide in her community at the CENTER FOR FAMILY EMPOWERMENT in Bumbogo and with help from LWA staff, she trusts herself and her husband more than ever before. With proper follow-up and soon funding for Valen’s physiotherapy this family will surely live a long happy life together.