Through Their Eyes

Nelson

Nelson is a 21 year old young man who attends the BCC day center at Pasua. He has been attending the Pasua center since it started in 2008. He has autistic tendencies and expresses himself mostly through drumming. He is very friendly and is becoming very helpful at the Pasua center.

Nelson’s life before the BCC day center in Pasua opened was incredibly difficult. Doctors were able to diagnose Nelson with a disability very early, when he was about 3 months old. As he grew older, he was found to also have Autistic characteristics. He received physical therapy at a local hospital until he was 5 years old. The therapies were expensive, but Nelson’s parents were willing to pay in order to support their child.

In 1995, Nelson started to receive day services from the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Moshi. The therapies that he received were even more expensive than the hospital, but he had wonderful results and he enjoyed the new relationships he made at the center. He received services from YWCA for three years. When Nelson was 8 years old, his father passed away. His father was the major source of income for the family. Therefore, when he died, Nelson’s mother, Edina, could no longer afford to send him to the YWCA.

After Nelson stopped attending the YWCA, Nelson’s situation became worse. He needed to take regular medication to help him manage some of his emotions. His mother had to work to earn an income, but no one was able to take care of Nelson while she was gone. None of her friends or family members would help support her and Nelson.

Nelson was accepted into a special education classroom where he received educational and social interactions with peers. The school was located over 15 miles from Nelson’s house and he could only attend school from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm. His mother walked with him to and from the special education classroom every day, but since she spent her entire day walking with Nelson, she did not have time to earn an income. The family could not afford the regular medications that Nelson needed, they could not pay for physical therapies that were recommended for him, and often they would eat only one meal a day.

Edina started to work regularly as a day laborer in the local farms. It was nice to have the meager income, but no one stayed with Nelson during the day. Edina could not stand to think of Nelson locked inside their small apartment for the entire day, so he would wander around Moshi on his own. This worked well for about 2-3 weeks. However, soon younger boys in the community started abusing Nelson. He was lit on fire several times and regularly beat with sticks and clubs.

After about a week of physical abuse, Edina discovered that Nelson was raped by the group of boys. She quit working in the fields and stayed in with Nelson in order to protect him. A few weeks after she quit, the BCC center opened in Pasua. Nelson and Edina were begging on the streets and slowly starving. With the new services offered by BCC, Nelson was able to receive physical therapy and educational services while Edina was able to work. In fact, Edina was employed directly through the BCC center in Pasua and now earns a regular income for the first time since her husband died.

Recently, Nelson was offered a chance to attend a vocational school that specializes in children with autism. He is very excited about the opportunity to go to school and learn a skill! He wants to learn how to sew or work with wood. His dream is that he will be able to make things and sell them to people so that he can help his mother financially.

The school costs about $600 for one year. It is a three year program. His mother, who makes about $100 a month through her employment with BCC (twice the national average!), is able (and extremely willing!) to pay $300 per year for her son’s education. We are incredibly inspired by her willingness to help her son reach his fullest potential. If anyone is willing and able to assist her with paying for Nelson’s education please contact us at john.melissa.tanzania@gmail.com.

We hope that in this season of giving that it is possible to give Nelson the greatest gift of all; an opportunity.

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