Through Their Eyes

Eric – Longuo Day Center

Eric is a 6-year-old young boy who attends the day center at Longuo. He started attending the day center when it opened in 2009. He is a very playful and enthusiastic boy who thoroughly enjoys playing with other children and western volunteers. He is incredibly talkative and is enthusiastic about any activity that involves working or playing with another person.

When Eric first started attending the BCC day center, he could not talk or walk on his own. His grandmother brought him in a kanga (a large cloth) on her back. He has received physical therapy from CCBRT and, because of the continued therapies, he has learned to walk on his own. The staff attributes him learning to talk to socialization with other children. They report that he began talking and mimicking vocal sounds almost immediately after entering the day center.

Eric’s parents separated when he was young. After his parents separated, they decided that neither of them wanted to care for Eric. They left Eric with his maternal grandmother and she has cared for him since. His mother lives far away and no one at BCC is sure about what happened to his father.

Eric and his grandmother live alone. His grandmother owns a semi-traditional (mud and stick walls with a tin roof) home and a small plot of land (less than an acre). His grandmother works the land and grows crops for her and Eric to eat. She sells any excess food in the market, but even with the profits this generates, they earn far less than a dollar a day.

Even though Eric is playful, he seems to have difficulty with his vision. When he plays catch with the volunteers, he often throws the ball; when the volunteer throws the ball back, Eric cannot see it. He grasps at the air in an effort to catch the ball, but he rarely accomplishes that task. Sometimes he cannot even see the ball when it is lying at his feet.

His grandmother has taken him to an eye doctor and the doctor said that his eyes do not have any problems. The doctor said that Eric needs to go to Dar es Salaam (about a 10 hour bus ride away) to have a neurological scan to check his brain activity. Eric’s grandmother cannot afford to take the trip to Dar es Salaam, and she cannot afford the tests that the eye doctor recommended. With the Hike 4 Healthcare money, Eric and his grandmother may have the opportunity to go to Dar es Salaam and receive the test.

Oftentimes follow-up visits are expensive and difficult for families to access. The Hike 4 Healthcare will provide an opportunity for families to follow up on their loved ones in order to isolate simple problems, such as seeing a ball when you play catch. With the Hike 4 Healthcare funding, Eric will be able to follow up on his recommendation, and he might be able to see when he plays with volunteers.

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