Adelia touching a friend’s face
Adelia was left to die

“I’ll never forget the moment I held tiny newborn Adelia for the first time. She was very weak, and covered in dirt, fleas and insect bites. None of us thought she would survive. She had been left out in the forest to die just because she was blind. I was so angry I couldn’t sleep for several nights. Now Adelia is nine years old and I love her,” says Manuel. He tells the story of Adelia’s life.

“When Adelia was born and her father discovered that she was blind, he said straight away that she was not his daughter, and left the family. Adelia’s young mother didn’t know what to do. She left Adelia alone out in the forest, with no water or food. Adelia was naked and had no protection from snakes, dogs, rain, and the burning sun.
   Some herdsmen passed the place where Adelia had been left. They saw the little body lying motionless beside the path. Adelia had shouted and struggled for as long as she could, but now she made no sound. She had nothing left to give. The herdsmen were sure the girl was dead, when all of a sudden she made a tiny movement. They carefully picked Adelia up and ran to a nearby Catholic mission station.

Speaking out for children
The nuns contacted me and we took Adelia in. She was covered in dirt and very weak. We gave her food and drink, and took her to hospital so that she could get the right medicine. It seemed like a miracle when she came back to life.
   We always speak out for the children, and try to make sure that anyone guilty of a crime against children is prosecuted. So I went to the police and reported what had happened to Adelia, and asked them to arrest the parents. But absolutely nothing happened. At this time, the judicial system in a country ravaged by coups and civil wars was not working well. What’s more, sometimes the police don’t take crimes against children with disabilities seriously.

Children helping each other find the way

Looked everywhere
I decided to try to find the parents myself. I walked dozens of miles of paths between small villages. I was hungry, and slept where I could. After a while, everyone told me to give up, but I wanted to keep going.
   I finally found Adelia’s mother, who turned out to be very young. But before we got a chance to reach some sort of solution she disappeared, ashamed. Since then she has not been seen again. I have forgiven her, and I know that we can all make mistakes. But this illustrates the importance of our work raising awareness that blind children, and other children with disabilities, have the same rights as all other children.
    The most important thing is that Adelia is alive, and that we can help her to have a good life. When I’m with her, I am happy. She is funny and makes great jokes. I love her!”

Adelia sleeps in a bunk bed

21:00 Good night Adelia! “N’guende tucks us in and says goodnight before we fall asleep. That makes us feel safe,” says Adelia.


 
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