17-year-old Sofi suffers from cerebral palsy - a neurological disorder that primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Sofi is able to walk with the assistance of others but because of years sitting cross-legged, she prefers to crawl the majority of the time. Although Sofi has spent years studying at a school for children with disabilities, she feels too ashamed around her peers to continue her education.
In many cases, particularly in the third world, parents of children with cerebral palsy tend to deny or hide their child's inabilities, but not Sofi's. Her mother and father give 100% of their support in helping her manage the effects of the disorder. They have even made foot holders to prevent her feet from tightly closing from muscle contractures and parallel bars made from bamboo for daily walking sessions.
In early 2015, Sofi was identified by Pusat Rehabilitasi Yakkum's ("PRY") community-based rehabilitation team to participate in a three-week intensive cerebral palsy therapy program. Over the course of the program, which is sponsored in-full by ALTSO, Sofi's confidence began to increase from the structure the program provides. She has shown significant improvement both physically and emotionally from various treatments. Her muscle contractures in both her hands and feet have reduced and her ability to walk and hold things is becoming easier to manage. The program also encourages parents to support their child's independence - enabling Sofi to conduct a few exercises on her own.
The program plays an important role in broadening parents' point of view of understanding and coping with the disorder, its effects on the human body and its future expectations. The program also encourages self-sufficeincy in the event that the family support system ceases to exist.
Upon completion, Sofi's parents plan to register her in vocational training to equip her with the necessary skills to become an active participant in society. In just a few short weeks, Sofi is showing signs of a new and improved person. She is much happier and a lot more motivated - thanks to supporters like you who are making stories like Sofi's possible.
Support Sofi and children with cerebral palsy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by tuning in to ALTSO's Live Stream - (Sundays through Thursdays, 8 pm to 2 am EST) and making a donation to keep this vital program going.
STORY BY YOHANES HASTADI & A.J. WARCO / PHOTOGRAPHY BY YOHANES HASTADI