During June, the TB Voices Project exhibition traveled to Atlanta for the National TB Controller Association Annual Conference. Five banners containing over 20 stories were displayed during the week and I had the opportunity to share about our project and the stories that were shared in the Northwest to the entire delegation. The feedback was tremendous and the desire to have even more stories recorded was repeated over and over.
Hearing a pin drop-------
During my presentation, I played an audio clip of Christine, one of the 28 TB Voices Project participants. Christinewas stricken with TB in her hip when she 18 months. She spent 10 years in an English hospital—on her back, immobilized, for 5 of those years. She has endured nearly 30 surgeries.
This is the clip the audience heard:
I came out when I was 11, and I had to have a private tutor in order to be educated because they only taught you to speak. There was no schooling as such. But I must have been intelligent because I did very well. But the thing that I remember the most, there is nothing as cruel as children, and in England back then if you were disabled at all, you were classed as a freak. It is not like it is today. You were a freak. They were very cruel. The people were cruel. They would call me hop-a-long and because my butt sticks out because it is straightened, it does not have any flexibility then, you know, you were called chicken. They were terrible. But my father, whom I adored, used to always say to me you are normal, you are not disabled at all, and you’re not interested in the possibilities of defeat because they don’t exist. I will never forget that because he built me the character that I have today because they told me that I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike, drive a car, swim, dance, and I set out to do all of that, and I did it all, and so things, you know, everything was okay.
Christine's authentic voice as she brought to light the real stories behind the medical diagnosis and treatment of TB, fully engaged and moved the audience. We are so thankful that Christine chose to share her story.