Eleven-year-old Cleidy from Guatemala was born with limb difference, missing both hands. In most poor Guatemalan communities, a child with such a disability would be considered inferior, without the hope of any future. In fact, her own mother abandoned her because she was ashamed.
But Cleidy’s grandmother and a tutor from Christian organization Compassion International saw her potential. The difference has been staggering. Today, not only can Cleidy write, but she also wins prizes for her writing.
Here’s one short, yet incredibly powerful, essay she recently wrote:
I am happy this way.
I was born very healthy, weighing 8 pounds, at 7 p.m. I was born without my hands, but I can do everything. I feel great because I am a person, the same as others. God made me this way, and I learned how to use my forearms instead of hands.
Here are four things I have learned from living without hands:
1. I know God is good to me because He made us all equal.
God helped me to develop my abilities and my studies. I am the number one student in my class, and I am always the flag bearer. My friends have told me that they would like to have my learning abilities.
2. I have learned that I must not pay attention to it if someone disrespects me.
I have good relationships with my friends. They respect me and treat me with love if someone does disrespect me.
3. During my life, I have learned that there are no limits.
I can do anything I want because God always supports me to move forward.
4. With my abilities, I shouldn’t give up, but strive day by day.
I want to show the world that if I can do it, then they can learn to be happy forever too.
This is an 11-year-old girl who has experienced more trauma in her short life than most of us will experience in all our days. The fact that she is able to express, with confidence, the things that have happened to her – is a miracle. It’s also incredible because she writes in spite of the fact that she has no hands to write with. Instead, she craftily uses her arms.
Abandoned By Mom at Age 3
Tragically, in most poor Guatemalan comunities children born with limb difference or other disabilities are marginalized, believed to have no future even if they have superior intelligence. The resources for children with special needs in the education and health care sectors are inadequate. And many children, whose disabilities might have been averted with early detection and intervention, don’t receive the timely care they need, especially in Guatemala’s impoverished rural areas.
This prejudice against children with disabilities affected Cleidy from a young age. Cleidy does not know who her father is, and when she was 3 years old, her mother, ashamed of her daughter’s disability, abandoned her. Thankfully, she has a kindhearted grandmother, Victalina, who took the rejected toddler into her own home.
“I was sad about what my daughter thought of Cleidy and how she felt,” Victalina says. “I knew that because of her special needs, it would be challenging to care for her. But I trusted in God,” Victalina explained.
Victalina treated Cleidy just as she would any other child, as did Cleidy’s tutor.
Victalina believed Cleidy could overcome her limitations and experience the same successes as any other child in the community. Victalina was joined in her aspirations for Cleidy by Jamin, the tutor at the Compassion-assisted center Cleidy attends. In fact, Jamin taught Cleidy to write.
“I treat Cleidy just like the other girls at the Compassion center,” Jamin says. “I believe she has the same abilities and possibilities that they have. That’s why I taught her how to hold a pencil with her wrists to write. She learned very quickly!”
Believing in her granddaughter’s abilities, Victalina made a bold step, taking Cleidy out of the special-needs school and enrolling her in the local public school.
“I knew it would be a big challenge to Cleidy because there were no resources to support her additional needs, and she would be treated like a child without limitations. Still, I believed it was a good idea because she is an exceptional girl,” Victalina says.
Victalina was right. Cleidy says that changing schools was a huge improvement in her life. Cleidy knew most of her schoolmates from church and the Compassion center, and they gladly helped her with any difficulties that arose.
“I love my friends!” Cleidy says with shining eyes. “They are very helpful to me if I need anything. If I need a pencil, someone will give it to me. Or if I need extra help at home, someone helps me.”
Victalina is amazed at how the Compassion center has supported her granddaughter to become the girl she always knew she could be — a girl with dreams, opportunities and a bright future.
Changing Hearts and Minds
Because of the obstacles she has overcome living with limb difference, Cleidy exudes confidence. And because of her, many people in her community have a new mindset about children with disabilities. No longer are these children seen as an embarrassment and liability, without any future. People are learning to value and encourage them to achieve their potential.
“I love how the center and my tutor, Jamin, believe in me and support my future,” says Cleidy. “I used to be sad about my past, but thanks to the love of my center friends, my grandmother and God, I am happy.”
Cleidy hopes that she can be an encouragement to other children with disabilities like limb difference.
“I want to support children with needs like I have and encourage them not to feel alone,” says Cleidy. “Even if they are like me, without parents, God always will be there for them.”
How You Can Help Kids Like This
Did you know that you can sponsor a child who is facing a special need? There is a child waiting who, like Cleidy, needs someone to come alongside her to say, “You can do this. God loves you!” You can be that person in the life of a child with special needs. Take the step today to change a very special child’s life.
Check out Compassion’s web site HERE.