Mariam is having a hard time. She is ill. She is not like others. She can talk, read, write, dream, like her peers, but since her childhood she cannot walk. Can you imagine, friends, how hard it is for her family, living in in complete poverty, to see her suffering? They are so poor that they cannot help her!
She is 20. And for 20 years the wheels of a wheelchair are being her legs.
You can hear loud conversations and laughter sounding from the street. Here again they call someone to go out for a walk: maybe Nana, maybe Lela or Tamara, but not Mariam.
“Aunt Eliso, let Marie go with us for a walk, we will not be late, we promise!” - she wants so much to hear these words.
It would be great to persuade mother, to dress beautifully, to do hair, and quickly run down from the third floor out into the street and hug her friends. Then they would have a long walk, chatting about new TV series or neighbor boys. It's so interesting at her age! Probably, someone would have fallen in love with her, because Mariam is so charming, smart, and kind. Probably, in the evenings they would have long walks hand in hand until it’s dark, and her mother would have called her two hundred times an hour, worrying about why her daughter was late. Probably, she would have scolded her for coming home late. There would be experiences and tears - but this would be life - the real life of a teenager. But now, she can barely reach her wheelchair only with the help of her mother, and then wheel to the window and look at the sky.
“You know, God lives there, and He hears me. He knows that I want to walk, and I know He will certainly help me. But I have to ask Him every single day ...”
Friends, meet Mariam - the most ordinary unusual girl who has only one dream - to walk!
How can we let her dream go out?
Step by step - this is how Mariam learns to walk with the help of her mother
- Eliso, the cerebral palsy cannot be treated...
Eliso: It is true. But proper treatment, medications, rehabilitation course can significantly improve her condition. That’s what doctors said. It is possible to minimize the consequences of cerebral palsy, and this will give Mariam chance for a full-fledged life. The only thing I dream of is to see my daughter walking independently!
- Don’t fall into despair, Eliso! We are sure that Georgians will not let you the dream of your wonderful daughter to go out! Have you had any health problems during your pregnancy?
Eliso: I had no problems - both my pregnancy and birth-giving went absolutely well. Mariam is a long-awaited child. I have already had son when I got pregnant again. My husband and I dreamed about having a daughter, and we were so happy when Mariam was born! She was just ordinary baby... But then I noticed that there was something wrong with her. I could not explain what made me feel concerned. Probably, it was mother’s heart, who felt something wrong going on. We went to the doctor, and after a series of examinations he told me that I had a special child: God gave me a little angel that needs special care and attention.
Mariam, 20, can’t do without support of her mother.
- Eliso, what would you advise to mothers, who found themselves in similar situation?
Eliso: The most important thing is to take the reality. Many don’t understand that and keep resisting. Believe me, it will hurt you even more. It will hurt you anyway, you will cry and feel offended. But you must remember - it’s your child! He needs your love, your attention, your support. Show him how much you love him. He’s a gift given you by God. Just appreciate this godsend.
- -How does infantile cerebral palsy manifest in Mariam?
Eliso: My daughter is not far behind from her peers in development. She graduated from school, she can read and write - she loves reading books! The only problem is that Mariam cannot walk, she can’t stand on her feet because her muscles are weak. Four years ago, my daughter started having one more problem - epilepsy. One night I noticed Mariam lying in unnatural pose: her head was thrown back strongly, her eyes rolled back, and her whole body was shaking with convulsions. It was epilepsy.
The doctors said that epilepsy often accompanies the symptoms of cerebral palsy. We were lucky: many children start having seizures at an early age, and this can lead to serious consequences. Epilepsy in Mariam manifested when she was 16. So, if you take medications every day, take all precautions, you can avoid attacks - they will not affect the work and development of your brain.
"Come on honey, we can handle it"
“What a smart girl! We can do that, help your mom, help yourself "
“I dream that one day Mariam will no longer need a wheelchair and she will be able to walk on her own.”
- How does Mariam move around the house?
Eliso: By a wheelchair, which was given to us when my daughter was still in primary school. The wheelchair has now become too small for her - it is designed for up to 14 years. But this is not the worst thing. To get into the wheelchair, you still need to walk to it. So, I lift Mariam, grabbing her tightly around the waist, and help her get to the wheelchair. She cannot walk on her own - I am her legs. My husband cannot do this - he has severe health problems. My mother-in-law helps me, but she is old, it is not easy for her to lift such a weight. Therefore, I mostly deal with my daughter alone.
“One, two - sit down!”
“One, two - raise your hand!”
“Look, it seems like I am dancing!”
“Well-done, mommy’s joy. I am so happy that she managed to do it herself!”
- Eliso, what’s wrong with your husband?
Eliso: My children were just babies when my husband got sick. One day he felt unwell: he had a terrible headache that made him scream, his blood pressure raised dramatically. The doctors found a cyst in his brain. He was operated on three times, three times doctors opened up his skull. We mortgaged our house to pay for the treatment, but we did not manage to pay off and we lost it. Since then, we have been wandering around rented apartments. But who cares about that? The main thing is that your loved one is alive, and he is next to you!
- How did you meet your husband?
Eliso: We were neighbors. Our apartments were in front of each other. It turned out that my Zviad noticed me, he liked me, and I didn't even pay any attention to him. One day he kidnapped me. As simple as that - just kidnapped me. (Laughs.) My mother-in-law sad that it was not good and took me back home the same day. But Zviad did not back down, he started romancing me, he did not leave me in peace - and I gave up! So, we started our little family.
- Have you thought then that you would ever face such a misfortune?
Eliso: I could not even imagine anything of that kind! When you are young, when you are just starting a family, you think that there might be problems, but they will not ruin your life, they will be only insignificant, because since you are together, then the problems do not matter.
- How does your husband feel now?
Eliso: He has not recovered completely. His disease only receded for a while, and so that it does not make itself felt again, he needs to take various medications, visit doctors, and be examined regularly. But you know, it is very expensive. My husband is second category disabled. He can't put any stress on his body, he must avoid experience. He cannot see at all with one eye, and the vision in the other one is blurry. I am not healthy either. They found cysts in both of my breasts. I was operated on, but I did manage to get completely rid of them. I need treatment too, doctors prescribed lots of medications to me, but I just have no money for that. The first priority for us is Mariam’s health! Our whole family thinks only of our little angel. We dream of the day when she can walk on her own.
- What are doctor’s forecasts in regard of Mariam?
Eliso: They say that the most important thing now is not to lose time. They said that if we carry out all the necessary procedures and take rehabilitation courses before she turns 22, there is a huge chance for Mariam to get on her feet! The earlier we start treatment, the greater is chance for her to recover. But medical services are so expensive! We haven’t got that money.
“The most important thing is not to be lazy, and everything will be ok”
“The rehabilitation course will bring the results...”
“Mommy, I promise you, I will walk on my own!”
- What help does your daughter need now?
Eliso: You see in what terrible conditions we live. But there is nothing more important for us than Mariam’s health. We don’t need anything - just for Mariam to get well. That’s why we need help. Our daughter needs special medical treatment, rehabilitation courses, medical supervision. But we have no money for all that. I hope that you and the friends of the Fund will manage to help us. You are our last hope... (Cries)
Despite all problems Mariam keeps smiling! She believes that one day she will become the same as other people. Let’s help her, friends! Let’s alleviate her suffering.
- Eliso, please, don’t cry! We all are by you – we will support you! What means do you live on now?
Eliso: I work at supermarket and earn 650 GEL. My son works as well, his salary is 450 GEL. We haven’t seen for long the disability pensions of my daughter and husband, my mother-in-law’s pension, and social allowance. We took that money in advance from bank to pay for treatments of Mariam, my husband and mine when I had to be operated on my breasts to remove cysts. Since then, we only have debts... We just survive.
- Did you address the state authorities for help?
Eliso: We addressed many times. But there is no point. It is impossible to get help from them. The rehabilitation courses are very expansive, the state does not finance that.
- Does anybody help you? Your friends or relatives?
Eliso: Everyone lives his own life. When you have a sick child and a sick husband, when you feel unwell too, you just notice how your relatives and friends just vanish without leaving a trace. While you are healthy and able to help someone, everyone loves you. But when you have problems - nobody needs you. My colleges helped me a lot when I found myself in hospital. They raised some money for me - I am grateful to them!
- Do you rent this house?
Eliso: Yes, I do, but it can hardly be called house. As far as you see we live on the third floor of this old building. You have to overcome dozens of stairs outside to get here. I get scared even when I walk alone, imagine how it feels when I am together with my child. Mariam needs to walk, but how? I carry her in my arms when I go downstairs but going upstairs with her is a real problem. You can easily collapse. But we can’t afford anything else now. During the pandemic we were unable to pay rent properly, that’s why we have debts now. I have no idea how to pay them off, how to buy medications and food! I really have no idea...
“This house is like a prison for Mariam! The only place where she can go is a balcony”
And she wants so much to see the world around her.
- Do you have all necessary home appliances?
Eliso: We have no fridge. Now I cook food bit by bit, not to let it get spoiled. That’s why I have to cook several times a day. It is pretty hard. Our gas stove doesn’t work well - the gas leaks from it and it is very dangerous. But it does not matter, we will stand without anything - just help us with Mariam’s treatment. We don’t need anything else.
- Eliso, you said that Mariam attended school...
Eliso: Yes, she attended the regular school, because she is not behind her peers in development. I used to take her to classes. I got up in the morning, took Mariam to school, then went to work. In the afternoon, either I or my mother-in-law took my daughter home. When I had time, I stayed the whole day at school with my daughter, sat next to her. One can say that we graduated from school together.
“Mom, don't leave me alone! I'm scared"
- How did her classmates treat her?
Eliso: Perfectly! They always supported her in everything. Once they launched a project named "The Wishing Tree” at school, so that everyone could hang a paper with their wish on a branch ... (Cries.) Believe it or not, when the teacher read all the wishes aloud it turned out that the whole class wished Miriam to get on her feet.
- Eliso, could I talk to Mariam, please?
Eliso: She is very shy! She is always happy when guests come to visit us, but she is too shy to talk...
While I was talking to Eliso, Mariam was reading the Bible, which was lying in front of her on a small table. But from time to time, she looked at me and smiled warmly. When I asked Eliso's permission to talk to her daughter, Mariam pressed close to her mother and buried her face in her shoulder.
"I believe that God will not leave my daughter, because she believes in the Lord so strongly!"
Eliso: You see how shy she is. My angel! She always reads Bible and often prays. My daughter cannot go out for a walk, so she often sits on the balcony. And then she stretches out her hand to the sky and says to me: ‘Mom, look! God lives there. He sees me now, right?
Mariam told me that when she could walk, she would walk all day long. That she doesn't need anything else in life except to feel the ground under her feet.
- Eliso, if you had the opportunity to talk to God, what would you like to ask Him? Or what to ask for?
Eliso: First of all, I would say thank you to Him for the angel that He gave me. I would also like to ask God for health for my daughter, and, if necessary, let him take my legs and give them to my daughter.
"God, thank you for the angel"
-What do you dream most of all, Eliso?
Eliso: First of all, about a well-being of my family, about my daughter and husband to get well. But, you know, I would like the rehabilitation courses for children like my Mariam to be free in Georgia! There are many children with cerebral palsy, and the state does not finance their treatment in any way. And this is extremely important. The future of the nation is our children, the state must make every effort for them to be healthy.
Friends, 20-year-old Mariam needs to get on her feet. Doctors are sure - there is chance for that! But she needs physical activity, training on a special simulator, a rehabilitation course, and medications for that. That will help her to strengthen her muscles, develop her motor coordination and sense of balance, and improve blood circulation. Doctors can make Mariam’s life much easier. But her family has no money for all these procedures. Mariam dreams of getting on her feet, learning to walk, and living the life she is now deprived of.
You can visit Mariam yourself and help her as much as you can. Their address is: Tbilisi, 22 Gardabani Highway.
Please, don’t forget to repost our story. Let your friends know about the grief of this family! It’s extremely important!
Friends, there is one more request: if you know about the misfortune of a neighbor or friend do a godly deed, drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Fund’s accounts are:
(purpose: Mariam Gumberidze).
You can also transfer money from our website.
It is also possible to transfer money from TBCpay and ExpressPay terminals. Find our Fund under "Charity" section (You can read more about rights and responsibilities of the Fund following the link https://goo.gl/GY2Gus ).
We have already helped many disadvantaged people! Let’s support this family too! And who knows, maybe someday we ourselves will need help of strangers!
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