Behind every hero stands a strong team
When Mihăiță was eight months old, a viral infection turned into encephalitis and led to a cardiopulmonary arrest.
Țuțu and Aris, the Cozma family's four legged friends, need no words to understand Mihăiță, the youngest member of the family. Țuțu knows Mihăiță’s favourite cartoons, bedtime, and mealtimes. The dog knows when Mihăiță needs fun and “tickling” and he just wants to stay in silence. They share glances and the bed, as they team-up on the beats of “Cici, the Elephant” and “Today Grivei is angry”, while Mihăiță is the happiest child in the world.
“The most spoiled” member of the family – this is how they call Mihăiță at home. And the family is far from being small: three more brothers, the dogs Țuțu and Aris, and the grandma. But Mihăiță is the centre of the universe for everybody. He is always smiling, he is a wellspring of joy, a teacher of unconditional love and fondness towards speechless creatures, nature, and music.
It takes 15 minutes to change your superpowers
Behind his superhero cape and the time-travelling supercar he uses to move around – his wheelchair – it's his mother, Ana Maria. She speaks with distinctive wisdom about the 15 minutes that turned Mihăiță from a healthy child into a wheelchair-bound one. With spastic quadriplegia and severe mental retardation – Mihăiță cannot move his body at all and cannot talk. This sounds like a verdict, but this diagnostic marked the start of another dimension of love for the Cozma family, in particular for Mihăiță’s mother.
Eight years ago, Mihăiță was born perfectly healthy in a family that was expecting him like the most precious gift. At the time, his brothers were six, seven and fifteen years old, and seemed the perfect trio to welcome the “group leader” in their squad. When he was eight months old, a viral infection turned into encephalitis and led to a cardiopulmonary arrest. Mihăiță was resuscitated for 15 minutes and ever since he’s been living with the consequences of his body taking a break for that time. The child spent two months in induced coma, being deemed “the most serious case in the hospital”. A small boy, but with a superhero’s heart, having beside a mother who was always as strong as a fighter. Ana Maria was unseparated from her child for one month and three weeks, which she spent on a chair by the side of his bed. Since then, her arms have been priceless and always busy: Ana Maria carries Mihăiță almost always in her arms, and he loves these moments. “He’s been spending most of his time held in arms since he got sick. He only sits in the wheelchair when I change his clothes and when I take him out around the house or to therapy.”
Ana Maria has learned to understand her baby by his behaviour or even by the tone of the sounds he manages to utter. His epilepsy seizures no longer frighten her as they did at first, and she does everything in her power to shelter Mihăiță from any risk of getting ill.
The entire family surrounded him with love and care. They took Mihăiță’s state as a new normality for them: they instilled him the passion for rock music (they even let his hair grow as a symbol of this passion), they integrated him with the children at the Special Kindergarten of Brasov, located on the premises of the Inclusive Education Centre. Physical therapy and counselling are the most important specialised services that Mihăiță requires, hence they are part of the family’s weekly schedule. Even during the pandemic lockdown, when access to any kind of services was significantly limited, or only available online, the family members teamed up. Under the guidance of experts, they learned online how to do the physical therapy exercises with Mihăiță, taking thus over the role of the therapist.
Autumn comes with new challenges for Mihăiță: the school and the access to education and health care that he needs. His wheelchair is impossible to be used in the public transportation, so the family must look permanently for solutions close to the house to meet Mihăiță’s needs. A more performant wheelchair would give him access to the services he needs: a school that provides quality education for all, physical therapy, and counselling.
UNICEF provides free access to these services, to physical therapy and psychotherapy, in the Integrated Community Centre set up in Brașov, in partnership with the Brasov City Hall, and the Brasov County Social Assistance Department.
The Brasov Integrated Community Centre is one of the five established in our country under the UNICEF initiative “Romania for every child. Making social inclusion real - breaking the cycle of exclusion for the most vulnerable children in Romania” to bring together the minimum package of services – provided by teams of community-based experts (social worker, community nurse and school counsellor) and specialised services – delivered by specialists (physical therapists, counsellors, speech therapists, physicians, teachers). The programme is supported by a grant provided by Norway, under the Local Development Programme managed by the Romanian Social Development Fund (FRDS) as programme operator. The goal is to contribute to the social inclusion of all children and teenagers, in particular of the most vulnerable, by the provision of quality, fair and coordinated child health, education and protection services.
Under this initiative, Mihăiță, and other superhero children like him have access to the above-mentioned services in a the same place.
Be part of Mihăiță’s team of superheroes!
To make these Integrated Community Centres a constant reality in the entire country, we need you to be part of this story. With your help, Mihăiță and many other children like him can gain access to the services that they need so much.
Donate now on www.mihai.unicef.ro to support the Integrated Community Centres. Without these centres, many children find it impossible to gain access to the specialised medical, social, and educational services they need so much.
Donating monthly means giving these children infinitely more chances to recover. You may think that it is hard to make a change with just one person, but when tens, hundreds and thousands of people are joining in, we can build a better future for every child, and these monthly online donations on www.mihai.unicef.ro become a real help.