Nineteen-year-old Rahma Haruna of Kano, Nigeria, is a cheerful, bright-eyed, young woman. At the same time, her sorrow is inescapable: she suffers from a condition that has turned her family’s life upside down. Rahma’s arms and legs are so short that she has to live in a plastic washtub.
At birth there was no evidence that this would happen since Rahma came into the world as a healthy baby. The first sign of trouble was when she suddenly developed a high fever and stomach pains at about six months, and then something unthinkable happened: all of a sudden, her limbs stopped growing. Since then, she has lived in this meager state that hasn’t changed in 18 years. For years her younger brother Fahad, only 10 years old, has taken his big sister in a blue plastic bowl into the village, where Rahma then begs for food and money. To add to their misfortune, her family is very poor and can’t afford proper medical care for their daughter.
Rahma’s father had to sell almost all his possessions to pay the bills for his daughter’s medications. In the superstitious village where Rahma lives, it is said that that an angry spirit cursed her father and that Rahma’s affliction is his punishment. Curses are seen by many religions as the cause for psychological or physical impairments because people lacking a proper education simply don’t know any better. This accusation weighs unbelievably heavily on the man, yet he can’t and doesn’t want to leave his village because he doesn’t want to abandon his daughter and family.
A video showing Rahma in her washtub captured a lot of interest on the internet. This led to the family being given a wheelchair as a result of the attention that Rahma’s case then received in Nigeria. This has been a welcome support for the family because Rahma can now be more easily transported.
Rahma’s family clings to the hope that one day enough money might be contributed to allow Rahma the opportunity to be professionally examined in a hospital; till now there’s been no actual diagnosis for her condition. Despite being trapped by what seems a very harsh destiny, the unfortunate woman holds on to a life dream: Rahma would like to own and run a supermarket so that people in her area can buy food and other necessary household supplies, and she hopes this will allow her family to earn a decent living.
You can learn more about Rahma’s story in this video:
Hopefully Rahma will get the chance for a thorough medical examination and a treatment can be found to make her life more liveable. Although she never complains, she often suffers from pain. How her family copes with their fate and withstands the hostility of their neighbors is really admirable.