Infantile cerebral palsy is multi-aspect and very difficult illness. It meets a child from the first minutes of birth and leaves a mark for the whole life. The word "infantile" gives it a special bitterness and tragedy.
Natalia Kuznetsova was born in 1976 with a sweet smile and eyes full of kindness. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but the disease could not wipe the smile from her face. For many years, Natalia was trapped at home, could hardly speak.
About eight years ago Elena Efremenko (the methodologist and now the Head of the Day Center) visited Natalia and they began practicing to develop Natalia’s motor skills and creativity. On her first classes to the Day Center Natalia came in the wheelchair, accompanied by her mother. Now she is an active participant of the “Raduga” program for young adults with psychoneurological diseases. The program is organized by Hesed-Rakhamim, Jewish welfare organization, and meets at the Minsk Jewish campus twice a week.
The day came when Natalia was able to do without a wheelchair and to go to the Rehabilitation Center in Tarasovo: Raduga participants go there twice a year for already seven years, escaping from the noisy city and sweltering apartments. There she celebrated her following victory – she was able to step over the 5 centimeters barrier separating the road from the sidewalk. It was there that she first tried to bake pancakes.
Then there were other achievements: participating in the theatrical performance, education of computer in the frameworks of the "Window to the World" program – broadening social networks of the young people with special needs by means of the computers. The program took place in 2008 with the generous support of the Word Jewish Relief. Natalia is quite successfully engaged in embroidery and bead work: it was difficult for her even to hold a pencil, and to thread a needle is like a great deed. Step by step she can achieve her goal: to be among the people, to communicate, to create.
When life seems to return to normal, Natalia is facing a new trial: exacerbation of her disease. She can hardly walk, always falling down. The doctors are worried that each new fall can result in fractures. Natalia needs quite expensive medications that Natalia’s parents have to buy in Germany, spending most of the family budget. Her illness had compelled her to stay down for several months and she cannot participate in the “Raduga” program. Hesed-Rakhamim bears a hand to Natalia, and though it is not enough she doesn’t lose hope and her eyes are still full of kindness.