Michelle Lashley-Bisram lost her daughter Danielle Bisram in January of this year.
But Danielle’s 19 years on this earth birthed an NGO set to impact the lives of others like her for many more.
“We are thankful for the time we had with her,” Lashley-Bisram said yesterday.
Born in 2001, Danielle was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
“When I was sent home with this child, I wasn’t prepared,” Lashley-Bisram said.
She had no internet access at the time and had to visit a local library to learn more about the disorder.
But that was just the beginning of her family’s journey, as it was not easy taking care of a child with a severe case of CP whilst dealing with other life challenges.
“It is because of the mercies and the grace and the goodness of God that me (sic) and my family survived through this situation, because we had so much struggles. I used to cry out to God and ask for help,” she said.
Over the years Lashley-Bisram’s family faced homelessness and she struggled to find and keep work and, at one point, was given an ultimatum to choose between her daughter and her job. She chose the latter.
“If you all have to live a day in the life in our shoes, as caregivers with persons with Cerebral Palsy, bosses will understand our struggles,” she said.
She and her husband also fell ill and needed surgeries. Overwhelmed, Lashley-Bisram visited the Ministry of Health and shared her plight. It was only then, after months of going through the system, she got help.
“I remember is five years I took before I could get a grant,” she said.
It’s this boldness that prompted others to ask her for help and motivated her to start an NGO called Care Helpers Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (CHOTT), which she established to assist others with children like Danielle.
Lashley-Bisram said the reality is that even with the grant of 1,500 to $2,000, monthly expenses to take care of someone with CP exceeds that. She said some of them need therapy ($250 per session) up to four sessions weekly, pampers, wheelchairs, special mattresses and since they can’t eat solid food, caregivers try to get Pediasure or Ensure and vitamins for them.
“These things cost a lot of money,” she said, adding that sometimes they also have to purchase medication.
Lashley-Bisram said the situation for the over 100 members of the NGO worsened during the pandemic, as many lost their source of income.
The CHOTT will host a barbeque at Exclisor Paradise Gardens, Tacarigua, on October 30 to raise funds to help these families. The NGO can be reached at 709-9033.
But Lashley-Bisram and the NGO also want inclusion and equality, especially for those who do not have severe cases like her late daughter because even with her severe case, Danielle brought light to their lives and knew exactly what was happening around her.
“She used to blink once for yes and twice for no, we developed that relationship… even when you dress her to take her out oh this child used to be in her glee, on her birthday she always know her birthday she was the best behave child on her birthday,” she said.
Anyone wishing to assist can use the following bank account info:
First Citizens Bank Limited, Arima
Swift Code: FCTTTTPS
Account No. : 2482681
Account Name: Care Helpers Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago
Attention: Michelle Lashley-Bisram