Romani Josef, Tanzania

02_08_spina_bifida-romani.jpgWe meet Romani Josef, 19, who comes for regular check-ups of his bladder function. He lives a few miles away in Marango, by the foot of Kilimanjaro. His mother abandoned him as a newborn baby, his father died very early. Romani lives with his grandmother and another boy from the village in a small hut. He tends to the house, washes his clothes, cooks ugali, a maize porridge which is the local basic food.
"I learnt to catheterise two years ago, he says shyly. Before, I was never dry. Now I'm totally dry. I have tried to go to school many times, but I was not allowed to continue because I smelled too much. Nobody wanted to be with me. I could not visit other people in their houses.
   Romani has an artificial leg and leaps around with the help of crutches. In his home he looks after two sheep and a lamb. He hopes to be able to sell one sheep in return for an income, then let the lamb grow and later on get a new lamb.
Once a month he is visited by an occupational therapist and once every three months he goes to the hospital clinic for new catheters and a medicine called Oxibutinin, which affects his continence in a positive way. One catheter lasts for two months for him.
   He has not yet given up hope of going to school.
"Maybe I'm too old for ordinary school, but if only I could have some education which  teaches me to read, write and calculate, I would feel much happier", he says.
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