Little Lissel shows signs of recovery… Mothers to knit 1 million butterflies to help children in need

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Windhoek

Eight-year-old Lissel Xoagub, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and malnutrition, has started showing signs of recovery after he was admitted to the private Medi-Clinic hospital on Friday.

In response to a report published by New Era on the tragic situation of the sickly orphan a month ago, a group of mothers, who also have children with cerebral palsy, came to the aid of his grandmother by providing her with food and healthcare products for the child.

The group of concerned mothers came to the boy’s aid again last week when they found a sponsor to pay for his medical treatment at Medi-Clinic. Lissel weighed only 8.1 kg when he was admitted to Medi-Clinic last week, but has since gained over a kilo. By Sunday afternoon his weight was recorded at 9.6 kg. A dietician earlier said at his age he should weigh at least 23 kg.

Two of the concerned mothers, Huipie van Wyk and Gillian Mouton, and other Good Samaritans managed to have Xoagub admitted to Medi-Clinic for a week after his release from Katutura hospital, with the support of a sponsor who wished to remain anonymous.

The concerned mothers continue to spend time at the orphan’s bedside and to get sponsors on board to care for him. They are among the many Namibians, who reacted positively to the plight of little Lissel. Van Wyk has a two-and-half-year-old daughter who also suffers from celebral palsy, while Mouton’s daughter is three-years-old.

Van Wyk said Xoagub’s health started deteriorating at Katutura State Hospital as his lungs were wet and the hospital could not feed him solid food, but only milk. “They couldn’t suction him. They took him for lung suction at Windhoek Central Hospital, but stopped taking him after three days. No reasons were given,” Van Wyk said.

Shortly after publication of his story, Xaogub was admitted into the Katutura State Hospital, where he spent five weeks – as he was severely malnourished – before he was transferred to Medi-Clinic on Friday. “Here [at Medi-Clinic] he is getting lung and body physiotherapy, diet treatment and the support of a private pediatrician, but none of the sponsors want their names mentioned,” Van Wyk said. She also said they are considering conducting internal scans to see if a gastric tube can be used to assist with feeding. Van Wyk added that they would also assess whether Xoagub needs surgery on his legs, but they would need public assistance to fund any such operation.

Prior to his admission to hospital the boy lived in abject poverty with 16 family members in a small shack at the informal settlement of Okahandja Park, barely surviving on his N$250 monthly disability grant. When New Era first visited their home, Lissel cried and moaned all the time when anyone touched him, partly because his muscles were permanently contracted and when someone picked him up, he experienced great pain.

On Sunday, however, Xoagub seemed relaxed. The sores and lesions that covered his head and body are all healed.

He was stretching and moving his arms and also tried to stretch his legs. His level of concentration is high and he is able to follow people with his eyes. For the first time in the presence of this reporter, he smiled, so brightening the whole room.

His unemployed and sickly grandmother, Angelika Xoagus, 59, became Lissel’s primary caregiver after his mother passed away in 2009, but she struggled to look after him, as she is poverty-stricken. Where they live there is no household electricity and they get water from a communal tap about 120 metres from their shack.

In response to Lissel’s situation Van Wyk and Mouton have established Project Butterfly for children with severe cerebral palsy living in deplorable conditions. The Butterly Project was inspired by Lissel’s plight and was set up with the support of the El-Andri Early Intervention Trust.

The goal of the project is to knit one million butterflies before February 28, 2016 and to sell these by March 25 next year for N$5 each. The funds would be used to support children with cerebral palsy. Van Wyk said they want to encourage all concerned citizens to wear a butterfly to support Cerebral Palsy Awareness on March 25 next year.

For any donations, Good Samaritans can donate to El-Andri Early Intervention Trust, FNB, Ausspannplatz Branch. Account: 62255358288, Ref: Lissel

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