In December 2011 nineteen year old medical student Vika was in a devastating head on car collision. The doctors did not think she would live and recommended organ donation to her devastated parents. She spent a couple of days in a coma and the doctors said if she survived she would have no memory and basically be a vegetable with no hope of recovery. This past March CAC was contacted by the Belarusian Department Humanitarian Aid to see if there was anything we could do to help this girl. We sent a few members of our spring delegation to meet her and assess the situation. It was realized that her greatest challenge was that she had no access to any kind of physiotherapy to help her improve her physical and cognitive abilities. After returning to Canada CAC decided that to bring maximum benefit to this girl we should bring professional help. We selected Marla Ferguson, whose family has had a long relationship with CAC, as our choice. Marla traveled to Belarus in grade 10 as a member of our delegation, now 12 years later she has degrees in both kinesiology and occupational therapy. This trip Marla had a three hour session everyday with Vika, working with her and setting up a program and she also had electronic access to colleagues overnight. Here is a picture of Marla with Vika.
Vika’s mother and father are amazingly supportive, they both changed their jobs (making less money) in order to work on opposite shifts so that one of them would always be home with her. Vika has been amazingly receptive and works very hard on every exercise that Marla has given her and has exceeded her expectations. One thing that Marla felt was missing from her program was a method to do some cardio to get her heart rate up and recommended a stationary bicycle. We managed to find one in a sport store in Mogilev and with a generous contribution from Marla we purchased it and delivered it on Marla’s last night in Belarus. Dave, Murray (Marla’s Dad) and I were able to see Vika light up when Marla came in her apartment was well worth the 40 minute drive to Slavgorod. This beautiful young woman was just beaming and smiling from ear to ear when she saw the bike. Right away she had her mother help her get on her sneakers and Marla helped her find a safe way to get on the bike. Marla instructed her to start slowly so her muscles could learn the motion required, but Vika really wanted to go fast from the start. This girl is so motivated and exudes such a positive energy that it was hard not to get caught up in her enthusiasm. Previously Marla had suggested using the stairs to help her in her development but her parents were adamantly opposed to letting her try this due to concern of her falling and hurting herself. However, Vika’s trust in Marla outweighed her parents concern and her father beamed with pride as he told us that she completed 3 sets of stairs, up and down that day. Her mother could not stop thanking us for everything we had done. Here is a picture of Vika on her new bike with her Mom, Dad and Marla.
It is hard to believe that a girl who has been through so much can have such a positive attitude and outlook and I am so privileged to be able to witness this kind of life changing experience. I can’t wait to come back in March to get another “fix” of Vika energy!