Widowed at 41, Mariam Abu is a mother of 6 who has suffered a great deal in the hands of poverty. Left with the responsibility of 5 children and a terribly sick son, Mariam has been living from hand to mouth while battling for the life of her son with Spinal Bifida — a congenital birth defect, present before birth. Spinal bifida is a condition where the bones in the vertebral column of a child does not fully cover the spinal cord, leaving it exposed at risk of infection. This condition does not only affect the spinal column but also the physical and intellectual development of the child. Unfortunately, for Mariam, this condition, which occurs in 60 births in every 100,000, became her lot due to low intake of folic acid before and during pregnancy. She lamented that since they were poor and barely surviving at the time, it was impossible for her to access proper medical care as she could not afford the cost of transportation to the nearest health facility nor could she afford the cost of medical bills. Mariam battled this alone resorting to all forms of herbal treatment all to no avail until she encountered the team from The Leprosy Mission Nigeria.
Mariam participated in a vocational training exercise and upon completion; she received support for business income generation, enabling her to start a petty trade that has now improved her livelihood. Through the income generated so far from her trade, two out of her five daughters who initially dropped out of school due to lack of fees, are now successfully back to school. Mariam is now a member of a new Self-Help Group in the community and her son currently receives proper ulcer care and physical therapy.