What if what you were once mocked for suddenly becomes the reason you are celebrated? It’s like your Achilles heel becoming your Infinity stones and strongest weapon. This young man was once called a monkey, but now he is famous all over the world for the same reason. Ellie Zanziman was born in the year 1999, but his story is like no other. Before he was born, his parents had tried several times to have a child, but it was always the same old story for the couple, so much so that their belief that they would have children was waning.
His mom had the first child but the baby did not survive then the second. This woman had five children, but unfortunately, they all didn’t survive. Still, she didn’t give up and she and her husband tried again. Instead, they prayed to God. She said, My husband and I lost five children.
After losing all those children, my husband and I asked God to at least give us a disabled child as long as he would never die. As early as the previous children we had before, their prayers were definitely answered. As she got pregnant and gave birth to a boy, Ellie. However, after she had her son, she faced new challenges. Her boy is not like any other newborn.
He was born different. His head was as small as a tennis ball and the feedback she got from doctors is not one you hear every day. The medical practitioners told her that unless she could run, she would not be able to raise her child. Bizarre, isn’t it? However, the medical team was soon vindicated.
This young man is not like anyone. His mum describes him as a miracle as he is indeed special. As Ellie grew, it became clear that he couldn’t speak or hear properly. The Rwandan’s irregular head shape results from microcephaly. This is a medical condition in which a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.
Microcephaly can be treated, but there is no cure for the illness. Doctors believe that this might result from malnutrition. While he was a fetus, Ellie was born into a poor family and his mum stated that the family had always struggled with poverty. The young man’s disorder made him intellectually disabled and his parents were told that he could not go to school or acquire knowledge. What he needed was to attend a school with children with special needs, but his parents couldn’t afford it.
As the boy grew older, he became a victim of abuse and bullying from various members of his village. He was mocked for being different and even given some unpleasant nicknames. The East African was called names such as Mogli, monkey or ape. This hurts me so much when my child goes and comes back when he was beaten by neighbors, yet he doesn’t harm anyone, but they always yell at him and say that he is a monkey despite seeing that he is a person. It makes me so sad hearing people bullying my son.
Not only kids. It’s a pity seeing a grown up person bullying my child. Shamelessly. When people meet him, they run away from him saying he’s a monkey. His mother said, I know it was horrible, but what would become of this special voice story?
How would he survive with all the challenges stacked against him? Remember when I said earlier the doctors told the mother that she wouldn’t be able to cater for her son unless she had pace? Well, here’s why. Ellie is quite the athlete. He always had to run to escape those who tried to bully him.
The millennials spent most of his time in the forest just to escape those who made jokes about him. His mother was surely put through her paces as she always had to catch up with him and to help her keep up, this smart woman devised a mechanism. She tied a rope around her son and strapped the other end to an object she placed around her neck. Although she didn’t like to do this, she explains it was necessary if she didn’t want to lose her son because Ellie knew how to get to the forest. But he didn’t know how to make his way back home.
His mother said, he is always running. In a whole week we can cover 230 km. He runs at a speed of 60 km H and sometimes I need the help of neighbors to catch him. Isn’t that incredible? Another problem was the boy’s diet.
The forest was where you would almost always find the boy, and when he was there he ate grass as food. Ellie’s mum said, My child’s life in general, he doesn’t like food. He doesn’t eat the food he has served. Instead, he prefers bananas. He avoids large gatherings and runs away from them because they yell at him.
But this woman is undoubtedly a hero, as she always protected her boy fiercely. She always stood up to those who insulted her son. When I see people bullying him, it hurts me so much and I end up talking to them harshly. They don’t see him as a human being, they see him as an animal due to anger. They make me lose my temper and talk without control.
Ellie lacked social skills not just because he couldn’t speak properly, but also because of the bullying which made him isolate himself. Still, not all villagers mistreated him and his mother’s support system was their neighbors. One of them said he was born with people and lives with the villagers, but he relies on grass. No one has ever seen a person rely on grass like animals do, without his parents or other people’s intervention. He prefers to go to the forest and live there, and this is why everyone in the village is assigned to keep an eye on him.
The whole village is required to keep him safe. He stays far away from people and doesn’t like being with other people. However, tables turned for Ellie and his mum when an African online TV channel, Afromax, did a documentary on this young African. When they got to his village, they couldn’t find him as he had gone into the forest and only his mother knew how to find him. It took quite some time before he was found.
The media team also found it hard to convince him to stay for the interview. It was after 3 hours that his mother finally convinced him to stay for the interview. She showed that although his son could not speak or hear properly, it was still possible to communicate with him. She could send him on an errand and he understood her well. The interview introduced this special Rwanda to the world, but not even the online channel and his family could have known the impact that this would have on his life.
After sharing his story, the media outlet also set up a GoFundMe page for him and then the internet simply worked its magic. Millions of people were touched by the young adult story. Would you believe that all these people who never met Ellie but only saw or read a story contributed enough money to turn his life around? Through various contributions, the Rwanda could finally afford the special school he needed. Ellie was enrolled in the Ubuntui Community Center where he now has various friends.
The special needs school program coordinator Justin said, we thought about him for a long time as Afromacs covered Ellie’s life story. We kept making a follow up on him and found it can be helpful if he joined the school. Everything will change as time goes by, I hope. Step by step, year after year we might see a different Ellie. Isn’t that exciting?
His mother said, I’ve always asked God to take my son to school. He was experiencing a bad life being beaten. I’d always run right after him and right now he’s at school with others. I’m so happy about this. My son is having a good life.
I thank everyone who helped us. I thank these journalists so much. Without them, life would have been worse. I’m very happy my sorrow had been taken away, but her son’s story gets even better. Apart from getting into school, the money gotten from online contributions was enough to get his mum a new home.
This is the lease this fine woman deserves. I’m glad she got it and she’s very grateful for it. I thank all those who supported me more, especially Afromax. Journalists visited when I had a poor life, they helped me. I was hungry and they did advocacy for me.
I later got food and felt better. They said they would build a house for me due to the house I had. It was hard to believe. I said, you never know. God can perform a miracle now.
Everywhere he goes, he has fans who want to take pictures with him. Yes, you heard right. Our dear Ellie is now a celebrity. Soon he might even need bouncers. Ellie is no longer the boy that was mocked.
Now there are thousands who support and love him. His story is proof of what can be achieved with kindness. And when people unite for a goal. Do you have any similar stories of people with unique medical conditions but whose lives have been changed for the better? Share with me in the comments.
I hope to see see you next time. Bye.