I’ve been walking the road with my special needs child for 10 years since her near-drowning accident at the age of 14 months. 

I wish to share her story of hope and faith to anyone out there who is going through a similar crisis.

Bennemie has touched the hearts of every one since the day she was born but during an afternoon spent with family, our world changed forever.

14-month-old Bennemie was playfully running in and out of the house and along the swimming pool.

We kept an eye on her ensuring that she kept a safe distance from the swimming pool.

But in one moment she was around us and the next was the start of any parent’s worst nightmare:

A mere 13-foot from where I had been sitting, Bennemie lay face down in the indoor 30 cm-deep water feature.  

I jumped in and hauled my lifeless baby out and her father started CPR on her immediately and continued while rushing to the nearest hospital.

On arrival, Bennemie had no pulse, no heartbeat and no pupil-reaction. She was clinically dead.

For the next 20 minutes, the medical team worked non-stop on her little body before getting a sign of life.  Bennemie was stabilized and was placed on a ventilator.  

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A road of faith
A brain scan result showed that Bennemie may be deaf, blind and have cerebral palsy.

We opted for a second opinion, but the second paediatric neurosurgeon only echoed similar devastating news:  Bennemie would be to bed-bound where, after 3 years, would probably die of pneumonia.   

He suggested we concentrate on our other two daughters and put Bennemie in a home so that there may be no family disruption.

I refused to believe that my happy, laughing redhead would never be the same little girl again and in that moment that we started on this very long and very lonely road to of taking Bennemie’s rehabilitation upon ourselves with faith in our Almighty God.

We took Bennemie home

Bennemie was released from hospital and we took her home where therapy became a full-time job: Physio, occupational, speech, swimming and horse therapy every day of the week.

Now, 10 years later, her progress is remarkable.

Evaluating on the level of a 12-15 month old baby, Bennemie is re-learning everything she knew.  Her speech consists of a minimum of 8 words only.  

Our medical aid fund does not provide for full time therapy and, sadly, therapy was put on hold due to the lack of funds.

To ensure that she receives the therapy and care she needs, we have to generate a minimum of R115 000 every year.  

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Although we receive donations, we’re never able to meet this amount.  

I am now a single parent with a minimum monthly income that has to provide for Bennemie and her 2 older sisters (18 and 20).

By the grace of God, Bennemie is able to hear, see, swallow and is becoming stronger and stronger in supporting herself.

Miraculous progress

She can manage to sit and crawl on her own.  She can stand up against furniture and is able to maintain her balance for longer and longer periods of time.  She is a miracle.

Bennemie’s condition has not affected her joyful spirit and loving attitude towards those around her.

I feel humbled by my belief that God decided long before my daughter was conceived that I should be her mother and prepared me for this very difficult, very lonely road of healing.

Follow Bennemie Strydom's miracle progress on Facebook.

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This was written in response to Chanté Petersen's article,Two-year old's miracle survival inspires a community.

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