Aizada* was six years old when she first came to ride horses with Operation Mercy’s partner organisation in Kyrgyzstan through the children at risk project.
Aizada has Autism and Cerebral Palsy, which cause difficulty with her balance and gait, limit her speech and affect her social skills. When she started riding, Aizada could not greet the staff. She made no eye contact, and she was unable to control her emotions. She would often have an emotional melt down when she wanted to go faster than what the trainers were comfortable with.
Gradually, Aizada became more comfortable with the staff and started helping in the stables. She began to greet the trainers, leave appropriately, and respond to simple commands. The horses helped her with her inner confidence as well as balance, concentration and focus during her time riding. When Aizada mounted the horse, it was as if all the inner turmoil inside her would disappear, and she could experience peace for a short time.
Perseverance in this programme paid off. After seven years of participation, Aizada can now ride more independently, though still with supervision. She no longer walks with a limp, and her social skills have developed to the point where she can now attend school. This is a victory for Aizada, her family and the team!