Meet Rahma Haruna — the teenage girl who’s forced to live her life in a plastic bucket after losing the ability to use her arms and legs.
“I’ve spent 15 years searching for the cure,” her father, Hussaini, told Barcroft.
The 19-year-old had been born perfectly healthy in the village of Lahadin Makole, close to the Nigerian city of Kano, before doctors noticed she had mysteriously stopped hitting key developmental milestones as an infant.
“From six months when she learned how to sit, that was when it began,” explained her mother, Fadi. “She started with a fever and that was it. Then stomach pains. Then her body parts like hands and legs…She didn’t learn how to crawl.”
Her family spent thousands on experts and treatments in the attempt to fix what was wrong with her, but to no avail.
“I sold almost everything in my possession,” Hussaini said. “I farm, go to the market and lots more looking for money to pay for her bills. Only God knows the real amount of what I had spent.”
But while doctors have been baffled about Haruna’s condition, she’s been looking on the bright side of things.
“I thank God in everything I do,” she said. “I want to start a business. A grocery store and anything people buy, that is what I want.”
With help from her 10-year-old brother, Fahad — and the rest of her family — Haruna spends her days in Kano begging for spare change and other donations.
She can barely move a muscle and is confined to a tiny bucket no bigger than a crock pot.
“They help me a lot,” Haruna said, describing her loved ones. “How do they? They give me anything I need.”
In addition to carrying her around, Haruna’s family helps her eat, wash up and even gossip with cousins.
“I help her in many ways,” her brother said. “Bathing her is another thing I do. And taking her out everyday. I like taking to our relatives. She feels happy when we visit them.”
Haruna was recently thrust into the spotlight after a freelance photographer named Sani Maikatanga shared images of her on social media — sparking a wave of requests from strangers who wanted to help her in any way they could.
She has since received a slew of gifts — including a the donation of a wheelchair.
“We once went to a supermarket and we met someone who bought her wheels,” Fahad said. “I feel happy whenever I see people helping her.”