Everybody loves Filomena

"Filo doesn't like ciao"

“Filo!” This is what you hear coming from every direction when the little girl arrives in the psychosocial rehabilitation centre, in the children aisle. And her smile lights up the room. Her mother installs her in a wheelchair labelled “Filomena.” Other children and the staff come to greet her and although Filomena cannot speak or really move on her own, it is quite easy to see how happy she is.

Filomena in her wheelchair at the day-care center
Filomena in her wheelchair at the day-care center

Even if her dad, a mineworker, is away most of the time, Filomena enjoys when he is around. The same goes for her mum and her two older brothers. They form a very loving and caring family. Filomena was born with a spastic quadriplegia and epilepsy. Her mother brought her to physiotherapy sessions until she was six, when she was told to stop. She kept bringing Filomena with her everywhere she went. But Filomena was getting worse, unable to eat solid food because her clenched jaws, and her arms and legs atrophied considerably.

Filomena and her two brothers
Filomena and her two brothers

Our outreach workers find out about people with disabilities in their neighborhood, and one day, one of them came knocking on Filomenas' door (yes both mother and daughter are named Filomena). After talking with her mother, desperate from seeing her daughter’s condition worsen, she brought them back to physiotherapy sessions, first to a nearby hospital. Then she referred them to a psychosocial rehabilitation centre, offering day-care for children with disabilities.

Filomena with our outreach worker
Filomena with our outreach worker

Although the centre is far, and her mother has to carry her for over three hours there and back, they still go four times a week. Filomena has many activities there. She paints and draws, guided by the staff or her mother, she has music and dance activities with other children. She made many friends, including Alex. Filo lights up when hearing his name. She likes it so much she cries when she doesn’t go!

Filomena standing next to her mother at the day-care center
Filomena standing next to her mother at the day-care center

And of course, physiotherapy sessions are provided to help her relax her muscles. She is making progress and she can now eat solid food. And even if it takes a lot of effort, she does enjoy it!

Filomena during physiotherapy session
Filomena during physiotherapy session

Filo enjoys when her dad is around. To go back to work, he has to sneak out, because “Filo doesn’t like ciao.” But whenever he comes back she is the happiest girl on earth. Meanwhile, her two brothers and her mother bring her everywhere because Filo really likes being outside and surrounded by people and activities. Her mother wants to give a message to other families “It is important is not to hide.  If I go to the market or to a wedding party, I do not leave her in the house. She is a person, she needs to feel at ease and surrounded. She is a child like any other!”

Filomena drawing with her mother at the day-care center
Filomena drawing with her mother at the day-care center

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