Their way

Having two arms, ten fingers, two legs and ten toes is something that you don’t think about every day. For those of you who don’t know me personally, this is my third photojournalism trip. Last year I was fortunate enough to go to Kyrgyzstan and India. While those experiences were amazing and life changing in their own way, this one has by far made me the most thankful. It has brought me back to the basics and given me more perspective on the things we take for granted.

I met Daiane Flores and her 1-year-old daughter, Ana Clara, about a week ago at AACD (Assistance Association for Disabled Children,) the organization I have been working with. Since then they have opened up their lives to me. I was invited to spend Christmas with their family and ended up staying for three days. They are some of the most welcoming and loving people I have ever met, which originates from the culture here. Everyone hugs everyone and kisses on the cheek and they treat you like family. It’s just their way.

Daiane leaves her home to take Ana Clara to the doctor.

 

Raising Ana Clara is a full time job for Daiane. She relies primarily on the aid she gets from the government to support themselves. They live with Ana Clara’s grandmother, Cleide, who plays a huge part in taking care of her. Ana Clara’s father, Ricardo Pereira Lima, has been out of the picture for the majority of her life. Recently, he has decided to become more involved and accompanied Daiane and Ana Clara to physical therapy for the first time on Friday.

Anne Hupfeld works with Ana Clara on sitting up during physical therapy while her parents watch.

Daiane makes a swimming gesture while Ricardo moves Ana Clara up and down in the air.

Daiane injects cold medicine into Ana Clara’s mouth before aqua therapy.

Daiane kisses Ana Clara on the cheek before entering the pool for aqua therapy.

Ricardo and Ana Clara play during aqua therapy.

Ricardo leaves AACD while Daiane takes back the stroller.

Ricardo leaves AACD while Daiane takes back the stroller.

After a day of occupational, physical and aqua therapy, Daiane and Ana Clara leave AACD.

Tomorrow I am headed back to their house to spend New Year’s with them. Stay tuned.

Thanks for looking.

-Kaylee

 

A Christmas celebration for the kids

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With another day at Assistance Association for Disabled Children (AACD) I was able to get to know more of the staff and volunteers that not only keep the place running but also make it exciting for the children. I was invited to their Christmas party which consisted of gift exchanging, singing, dancing and eating delicious food.

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I also met Felipe Alves, 11, for the first time. As an infant his mother was told by her doctor to “throw him in the trash,” because he was born without arms and legs. While he may have a harder time than other children, he doesn’t let his disability get in the way of living his life. He plays soccer just like any other kid and is on a competitive swimming team as well.

Next week I will be going to his house to get a better idea of what his daily life is like.

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Thanks for looking.

–Kaylee Everly

The road to recovery

Today I got to see a place that I was expecting to be very sad to be around due to the challenges that children and their families were going through facing physical disabilities. Instead, I found the opposite to be true. Assistance Association for Disabled Children (AACD) is a place of hope.

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A physical therapist at AACD looks over 9-year-old Victoria Suenage’s test results. Suenage had surgery for her paralysis in August and will begin learning to walk tomorrow. (Photo by Kaylee Everly)

The physical therapists are full of life and energy, which in turn helped to motivate and encourage the kids. With Christmas around the corner special holiday functions are being held for the kids.

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Entertainment consisted of a talent show with kids singing and dancing. (Photo by Kaylee Everly)

I met several families during my time there and will be going back throughout the trip to meet more.

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Bianca Lopes, 3, waits in the waiting room before her physical therapy session. Lopes has hydrocephalus, which affects her psychologically and physically. Her condition developed after her mom had high blood pressure for four days during pregnancy. (Photo by Kaylee Everly)

My experience thus far has been nothing but positive. The people here are friendly and helpful. A huge thanks goes out to Marcel and Marina, the two people who are making everything possible for me at AACD. I look forward to sharing more about my experience and hope that you enjoy following.

-Kaylee Everly