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Cherished Child Patrons

From Madina and Keith Sharpe

"Tracey J Bell and the team at CAT continue to go above and beyond to support those in need in Zimbabwe. They have now extended their umbrella to include children with special needs under the name of “Cherished Child”. Indeed, all children should be nurtured and cared for, but special needs children truly and desperately deserve to be cherished.

My wife and I are honoured to be patrons of this branch of the charity, It's mission is something very close to our hearts. We were blessed to be the parents of two beautiful boys, Safwaan and Aziz, born 12 years apart, who were both diagnosed with Microcephaly and Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.

The doctors did exhaustive tests to try and find out why two of our children were born with these conditions but no answers were ever found. Microcephaly is a condition where a baby's head is much smaller than normal, this seriously affects brain development.

Children with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy have trouble controlling their muscle movements resulting in constant involuntary movements. This is very similar to someone with Parkinson's disease.

The initial diagnosis knocked us flat, our lives were turned upside down, but we had to dig deep, muster our inner strength and cherish our beloved children, giving up was never an option! Life for Safwaan was extremely challenging because in the 1990's in Zimbabwe, the attitude of the medical profession and society in general was that unproductive members of society should only receive the most basic care and treatment. However, for Aziz who was born and grew up on the Isle of Man in the 2000's there was so much more support and understanding. Safwaan passed away in 1998 aged 4, and Aziz in 2018, at the age of 12.

We will be eternally grateful to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (Philadelphia) and the Scotson Technique (Advance Centre UK) for their amazing programmes which significantly improved Aziz's quality of life.

Above all, our thanks and praise to the Lord, our God. He sustained us in the valleys when we did not know what to do, when we had no strength to carry on, when our children were crying out in pain and there was nothing we could do. He provided for us time and time again. Our finances were significantly impacted because Madina had to leave full-time employment in 2008 to take care of Aziz as his full time carer, never having a day off for 10 years. He protected our family and kept us together.

The rate of divorce in families with special needs children is 87%.That's just for one child. We had two! yet here we are after 33 years, still standing strong as a family. Testimony to the goodness and mercy of God.

To all the parents of Cherished children, be kind to yourselves, pat yourselves on the back for doing a great job, keep the faith and above all keep cherishing your special babies. Don't ever give up! We see you, and we understand your struggles!

To the wider community, thank you for all your support. Without your love and encouragement CAT (Community Action Trust) would not be able to do what it does… taking care of the most vulnerable back home." Keith and Madina Sharpe Proud patrons of The Cherished Child. (A community Action Trust initiative).

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