My daughter has taught me to push boundaries
Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
Having her daughter diagnosed with celebral palsy at four years was a low moment for Jessie Kanyi. The mother of two is now determined to create awareness on neurodiverse conditions and raise the little girl the best way she can.
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Kerri Nasambu, the reigning little Ms Neurodiversity 2020/2021, is jovial and playful when in the company of other kids.
The five-year-old loves swimming, listening to music and dancing. Even though she cannot talk she tries to sing along to music.
“She hears and understands everything, her problem now is speech and we are on speech therapy. She hasn’t started school yet and I pray we find a suitable one for her,” says her mother Jessie Kanyi.
Kerri was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a disorder of the brain that affects muscle tone and the ability to coordinate body movements when she was four.
At that age, she could not walk or talk. Even though doctors re-assured Jessie it was a case of delayed milestones, she was worried. Jessie had earlier sought medical attention when Kerri was nine months old upon realising she could not crawl or stand.
After months of occupational therapy with little progress, Kerri was diagnosed with CP.
“I knew nothing about the condition. I was devastated when I learnt that the condition has no cure.
I remember embracing her and crying. But I knew I had to be strong for her,” says the 27-year-old mother of two.
Her case was mild and she was put under medication. Despite the bleak diagnosis, Kerri’s fighting spirit could not be quashed. By the time she turned five, she was determined to walk.
Now, ten months later Kerri is walking. Though she isn’t stable yet and keeps falling, she is trying. She has no speech and is still diaper bound.
Last year, Jessie enrolled her in a pageant little Mr and Ms Neurodiversity 2020/2021 by Pageant Vote Africa.
The pageant aims at creating awareness, ending stigma, and advocating for children living with neurodiverse conditions, to be accepted and accommodated by society.
Jessie says, since her daughter is still fighting and struggling to make sense of the condition, joining the contest was a good idea.
She believes and prays one day Kerri will fit in this world even though it’s a permanent situation.
She adds that raising a child with special needs singlehandedly comes with multiple challenges.
Jessie admits to feeling overwhelmed and alone on many days as she juggled doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and paying hospital bills.
Jessie has been raising the first-born child by herself until in 2019 when she got married. Her second born child is 11 months old.
Despite the challenges, Jessie, a businesswoman, considers her daughter’s victory in the Neurodiversity contest as an opportunity to reach out to other parents with special needs children and create awareness.
“With her title, I am already reaching out to parents with children with disabilities not to keep them in the houses but take them for therapies and expose them.
A lot awaits them out here. They are not curses, they are blessings,” says Jessie.