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Healing the Children

To correct her clubfoot, a 4-year-old from Honduras takes a journey of many steps

by Sue Thoms

From the side, 4-year-old Reina looks like a ballerina in toe shoes, her club feet moving swiftly and gracefully as she runs and plays.

Her speed is even more amazing when you see her legs from the front or back – they turn in so far that she walks on the tops of her feet.

Reina at home

Despite her mobility, the condition eventually will be crippling. And that is why Reina, a spirited, bright-eyed little girl, made the long journey from her home in Honduras to Grand Rapids, MI where a podiatrist volunteering with Healing the Children is straightening her feet.

It was a journey of many steps – literally.

Reina lives on a mountain farm in Caserio El Cacao, near Catacamas, where her parents raise corn, coffee and beans. She lives in an adobe house with no phone, no electricity and no running water. Her mother, 22, and father, 29, don’t read or write.

To bring Reina to the airport, they had to walk three hours to the nearest town and then take a three-hour bus ride to Tegucigalpa.

After her parents agreed to send Reina to Grand Rapids for treatment, their plans were delayed a couple of weeks because her mother had a baby – the couple’s fifth child. And the trip was pushed back another day because the Cacao River, which they cross on foot, was swollen by heavy rain.

Finally in mid-July, Reina, her father, mother and the new baby were able to make the trip. When they arrived at the airport, her dad insisted on getting a pass to go through security. He wanted to meet the American Airlines flight attendant who had volunteered to escort Reina, said Helen Salan, the director of Healing the Children in Michigan and Ohio.

“He wanted to see who was taking his baby away,” she said....

The full story on mlive.com includes a wealth of pictures, video, and comments from readers.  A related story describes the exciting non-surgical treatment being used to correct Reina's condition.

“I love children, and this is just so rewarding to me,” said Dr. Michael David. “To take a child who is basically crippled and help them walk, and know they are going to walk for the rest of their life, is something I get a lot of satisfaction from.”


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