In June 2017, Charlisena returned to Les Anglais, where she lives with her mother and grandmother. They also sustained injuries in the accident during the storm, with her grandmother eventually needing to have her foot amputated because of an infected wound. Her grandmother gets around now with a walker but spends much of her time at their home. Charlisena’s father lives nearby and is also very involved with her life and care, having spent the first few weeks of her residence at the SCI center in Fond des Blancs to support her and keep the family back home updated on how she was doing.
By August, the school year was starting up. With support from the SCI program, which is helping the family pay tuition fees, Charlisena was all set to return to school. But she was still feeling uncomfortable about traveling to school and interacting with her classmates in her new wheelchair. The last time any of them had seen her she was an active, shy, “regular” 8th grader. Now she was returning, nearly a year later, the same person, but having been through a traumatic and life-changing experience—the physical evidence of which would be obvious to all of her classmates. It’s understandable why a teenager, or anyone, would feel worried and uncomfortable!
But, Charlisena’s old friends and new classmates weren’t going to let her hide at home or shrink back into the shadows. On the first day of school, they welcomed her back with open arms and huge grins. They didn’t care that she was in a wheelchair, they were glad to have her back, and her new way of getting around only made her someone that the kids wanted to get to know better. Groups of friends now walk with her for the 45 minute trip to and from school and help push her chair over the worst parts of the road. They encourage her to participate in school and community activities, and you can see the joy on all of their faces at being reunited with their friend - to say nothing of the happiness that Charlisena feels at being so welcomed back into her community.