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Zenel hoping to one day walk up steps of Girls’ High School

Zenel hoping to one day walk up steps of Girls’ High School


Elvis Charles is a man who believes that the best thing that ever happened to him is the birth of his children, so would you like to imagine how he felt when he realised that his daughter was physically challenged?

When Zenel, now ten years old was born, she had bow-legs and her very observant father noticed it in the delivery room. “It was the first thing that struck me” recalled Elvis. By the time she was three years old Zenel was the talk of the town because what was in fact a deformity was seen as “unique and cute” by all. “People enjoyed seeing her walk,” noted Elvis.{{more}}

Even though he knew it was a deformity, Elvis told SEARCHLIGHT HEALTH that he wasn’t really worried because he himself was born with similarly bowed legs and he “grew out of it”, totally amazing those who knew him as a boy growing up. He hence had hope for the eldest of his two daughters. And whatever concern he had was put to rest when after having an x-ray done, a doctor confirmed Elvis’ belief that she would grow out of it.

One day five years ago, his heart sank and tears came to his eyes when he saw her crawling on her hands and knees. An x-ray revealed that her left knee had slipped out of joint. Surgery was preformed on her legs to correct the problem and soon after, things were back as they were. “I was frustrated to see her go through that painful process.”

When SEARCHLIGHT HEALTH visited her and her father at their Green Hill home, Zenel was lying on a mattress in the living room, viewing her favourite cartoon shows. Both legs were in casts and they were at the time of the interview irritating her, but make no mistake, pity was not the prevailing emotion, because the anticipation of good things to come was too overwhelming.

The genesis of this hope came last year when Zenel went with her school on a field trip to Hadley’s Blooms, the North Union-based Horticulture estate where a parent who knew about the ongoing Rotary South collaborative initiative with the International Hospital for Children asked her “Do you want to walk?

Zenel, who is a grade five student at Petersville Primary school, also received great encouragement from her principal Rosalind Peters who insists that she must one day walk up the stairs of the Girls’ High School. “Miss Peters has been a great encouragement and even most of the children in the school, they usually would help Zenel and it means a lot to me,” said the encouraged father. Zenel herself also shared the same sentiment but admitted that some children do tease her, but they are in the minority.

Elvis, himself a teacher at Bethel High School said that he is sure that the surgical team from the United States who eventually operated on his precious daughter would remember him from the “million and one questions that I asked.” Charles told SEARCHLIGHT HEALTH that he was so broken by all that his daughter had to go through in her short life including the failed first operation that he made it crystal clear that unless he could be guaranteed that she will be able to walk on her own when the process was over, he would rather she be left alone.

After initially thinking that she had to be taken to Virginia to undergo the operation it all worked out as she had the operation on Monday, August 7, a day their family would not ever forget. “As they operated on her, the head of the team would bring back periodic pictures showing me what was taking place and I felt confident that they knew what they were doing with my daughter.”

Now Elvis says that he and his wife Zeneth are very hopeful and happy about what is to come. “I can’t wait to see my daughter walk on her own, that’s the day I am waiting for,” he said excitedly as Zenel added that she too was very excited and feels real good. They are confident now that her times of missing events, her inability to play sports and go swimming will be soon over.

“Every day my mind is on her, I have never spent a waking day without thinking about her legs and all she is going through,” expressed Charles, almost in tears.

Zenel’s timetable as it reads is eight weeks in the cast, after which she will transition to crutches as she goes through her physical therapy.

Young Zenel was one of the eleven children operated on by Dr. Chester Sharps and his team during the August 5 to 11 visit by the International Hospital for Children to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Seven other children with more complicated conditions, especially spinal disorders have been earmarked to travel to Virginia within the next year to be treated.