GFCF Recipes

GFCF Recipes

10.09.2007

Autism, Africa and an 8-year-old boy

This is just a very sad story, but one I couldn't stop reading.

Grieving mother plans autism school

By MICHELLE MOLZ
For the Courier-Post

MOUNT LAUREL

She traveled thousands of miles from one of Africa's poorest countries to seek help for her autistic son.

Now, after her 8-year-old boy died unexpectedly, Sabelle Jelani is preparing for a new journey. The 39-year-old township resident plans to open a school for autistic children in Dakar, capital of Senegal, as a memorial to her son, Hakeem.

It would be the first of its kind in Senegal, Jelani's native country. She left her homeland and spent the past five years here caring for her son and educating herself about autism. She hoped to return to Senegal to share her knowledge with families who have no resources to help them cope.

Plans for the school were under way when Hakeem suddenly died in his sleep in Dakar on Sept. 8. They had been visiting family for the summer.

"We laid down, and I rubbed his head, his chest, his hands, and he was stroking my cheeks, my nose, my eyes. He fell asleep and never woke up," Jelani said in a telephone interview from Dakar.

"I was his shadow, he was my shadow," said Jelani, who with her husband, Ahmed, 59 have two other healthy boys, Osman, 11, and Habib, 7. "He was a sweetheart. He was a wonderful soul."

Read the rest at the Courier Post.

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