Raising a child who is disabled, has special needs, or looks different from other children is extremely difficult.
Some parents are ashamed of raising such children and choose to hide or abandon them, but not Pearl Rikhotso’s mother, Boitumelo Kola (10).
Boitumelo claims that shortly after giving birth to her daughter, she noticed a protruding forehead and was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the bones in a baby’s skull join together too early. She goes on to say that the child even had a hole in her head.
Soon after, at 15 months, she had to have surgery to try to fix the bones. The operation was a success, and the mother reports that her child is very intelligent and growing well. Despite the fact that Pearl is a normal, intelligent child, she is teased because her head and eyes seem to be different.
“She is not disabled. She is so intelligent and even funny, but the problem is that she is differently formed,” says the mother.
She goes on to say that raising the child has not been easy, but she draws strength from God and loves her unconditionally. “When I first got her, I asked God why. But now I have changed my tune to “why not me?”. I’m saying if she wasn’t birthed by me, she would have ended in a family that would have rejected her or hid her or not even taken care of her. I’m not going to do that. I’m with her for life,” says the proud mother.
Boitumelo says people advised her to take Pearl to a school that caters for children with disabilities. “I told them this child is not disabled, she is just differently formed,” says the mother.
“Doctors also advised me that she is too intelligent, and she should go to a normal school. I was told that if she is taken to a school of children with special needs, she might be drained and try to adapt to such schools.”
Today, Pearl is in Grade 4 and is doing well at school. The mother says she often has to assure her child of her beauty as kids at school tease her. Boitumelo asserts her daughter is a talented dancer in addition to being intelligent. She says she wanted to be a doctor when she was younger, but now she wants to be a professional dancer.
“She wants to be a doctor, but I think I had more influence in that because I thought she could give back to children like her. That’s my dream, but now she says she wants to be a dancer,” says the mother.