“DEFYING THE ODDS”
Eunice’s mom was only fifteen when she gave birth to her.
“She kept her pregnancy from us. She used a binder to contain her bulging stomach and hid it well under her school uniform and loose t-shirts. I didn’t know that she was pregnant until she was on her seventh month. She has not seen a doctor for prenatal care,” narrates Melba, Eunice’s grandmother.
Deprived of proper nutrients while in her mother’s womb, Eunice was born severely malnourished. She weighed a measly 1.5kg.
“I cried when I first saw her. She was so small…about the size of a Coke bottle. I was afraid that she will not be with us for long,” says Melba.
Undeterred, Melba did everything to nurse Eunice to health and ensure that she will survive.
“I watched her like a hawk on her first month. I stayed with her at night and made sure that she was fed on time and properly cared for. At four months, I felt confident that she will be okay.”
However, Eunice’s severe malnutrition has brought detrimental consequences on her growth and development. She lags far behind her developmental milestones.
“At one year old, she has not shown any significant progress in the five development areas – motor, cognitive, socialization, self-help and language. She would just lay unmoving on her bed, like a child with cerebral palsy. When she turned two, she learned to crawl but her muscle control was still too weak,” recalls Rhodora, the EIP Facilitator.
The family was just about ready to resign to the fact that Eunice may never learn to walk, talk and socialize…until Eunice was selected as one of the pioneering project participants of SIMON’s Early Intervention Project in the town of Pandan.
The project, which is supported by Kindernothilfe, aims to help children with development delays (0-6 years old) make gainful advances in the five areas of development through home-based therapy program – jointly undertaken by the EIP Facilitator and family members.
Eunice was 2 years and 9 months when she was initially assessed for the project in June 2018. Her weight (8.1kgs) and height (77.5cm) were way below normal.
Under the tutelage of the EIP Facilitator and her grandmother, Eunice was provided with home-training exercises and activities for daily living (ADL) to help optimize her skills development. She was also provided with monthly supply of milk to supplement her nutritional needs.
A year and a half after being enrolled in the Early Intervention Project, Eunice showed remarkable progress in most of the developmental domains.
Slowly, she learned to talk and socialize with family and neighbors. She learned to do simple self-care activities like eating, drinking her milk and getting dressed. Best of all, she can now walk!
“When she turned three, she was able to pull herself up to a standing position while holding on to furniture for support.” Melba narrates proudly. She added: “She started to walk by herself at age four.
Seeing her take her first steps and walk was the most amazing thing! We never thought it would ever happen.”
Melba credits Eunice’s major developmental milestones to the assistance extended by SIMON and KNH.
“She blossomed under your project – mentally, socially and physically. The milk supplement, in particular, was a big help in strengthening her muscles and bones that enabled her to walk. She would drink 4 glasses of milk each day. Once she sees that her milk supply is about to run dry, she would tell me: ‘Mama, ask Ma’am (Rhodora) for more,” says Melba.
As of December 2019, Eunice weighs 10.8kgs and measures 85.3cm in height. She is still shy around people and needs to improve more on self-help and cognitive skills. She has a lot of catching up to do but they are taking it one step at a time.
Next year, Eunice is set to enroll in the Day Care Center in their barangay – another heartening achievement for this miracle baby who has defied the odds stack against her again and again.
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