Every day aboard our Memphis, TN based mobile medical clinic, we meet children with lives of extraordinary hardship and inspiring resilience who live the spirit of helping others. It is our goal that through the caring services of our medical teams we are able to help these kids grow up healthy and able to face any difficulties they may encounter. Fifth-grader Arhiana is one of those children.
Seven years ago Arhiana’s mother, Ariel, was in a catastrophic car accident that left her quadriplegic with a severe brain injury. Ariel was unable to care for herself, let alone Arhiana. So Arhiana decided, at a young age, to do something incredible; she decided to take care of her mother.
From the first day, “Arhiana was her mother’s angel,” grandmother Kathleen says. Although only three years old at the time, Arhiana “got everyone to stop crying,” reassuring her family that her mother, Ariel, was going to survive. And she did, but she had a long and uncertain road ahead of her.
Arhiana’s devotion and faith have led to improvements that defied all the doctors’ expectations. Once Ariel had stabilized, ”Rhi Rhi,” as her family calls her, started gently moving her mother ’s shoulders; now, Ariel has mobility in her arms. By offering her some solid food, she was the first to discover her mother didn’t need a feeding tube. With unflagging optimism and energy, Arhiana helps her family in any way she can. She cooks for and feeds her mother, helps with her exercises, and even sings and paints with her. Kathleen marvels “Honestly, she’s the reason her mom is here and in the shape she is in.”
We were excited to help care for this incredible child on the LeBonheur mobile clinic in Covington, TN, and Arhiana was eager to come on board. As Kathleen told us “She came home so excited about everything that happened on the bus! She had her finger pricked to take blood; they checked her blood pressure.” And we taught this young caretaker the importance of taking care of her own health.
Thanks in part to Walmart Foundation funding, through a program of four to six sessions, Arhiana and other children are taught the 8-5-2-1-0 rule: eight hours of sleep, five servings of fruits/vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour of physical activity/day, and zero sugared beverages. Arhiana told her family “We have to stop drinking all those soda pops!” She has a calendar with the days of the week so she can keep up with what she is eating and make healthy choices.” We know that Arhiana’s biggest goal is making sure her mother has every opportunity to get better; our goal is making sure Arhiana grows up healthy and has every opportunity she deserves too.
Although Covington is only 45 minutes outside of Memphis, accessing consistent healthcare can be a real challenge with a severely disabled family member, work responsibilities, and transportation issues. That’s why Children’s Health Fund and our LeBonheur partners are here: making sure that children like Arhiana, who have overcome so much and give so much to others, get the care they need to thrive.