The grown-up Elephant Boy

Whenever there is a visitor at home, Xiang Xiang would be very excited, rushing back and forth in the house making exaggerated bodily actions to communicate. With a feeding tube attached on Xiang Xiang’s throat, he was unable to speak except by making a noise which sounds like an animal roaring. The speech problems also caused Xiang Xiang to have his tongue unintentionally stuck out dripping. That’s how the nickname Elephant Boy came about.

Xiang Xiang was born with cleft lip and palate and had a mixture of problems with swallowing, speaking, brain and hormones disorder. When we first found Xiang Xiang, he was 8 years old. He had never eaten solid food and hadn’t started speaking yet. Due to Xiang Xiang’s special needs, there was no school willing to take him.

Xiang Xiang’s mom left home when he was 3 years old. His 70-odd year old, illiterate grandma became the main guardian of Xiang Xiang and his 3 older sisters. Xiang Xiang’s dad had to work harder to sustain the whole family.

“There must be a solution.” When the NCF team heard of Xiang Xiang’s story, we believed there must be a solution for Xiang Xiang and his family. We tried to look for potential surgeons willing to take the challenging surgery on Xiang Xiang.

Thankfully, a few years later, a surgeon responded to our request and the surgery turned out to be success. We soon launched an “Independence Program” to promote Xiang Xiang’s independent living skills. Xiang Xiang was enrolled in school and had several lessons focusing on speech therapy, social interaction, problem-solving, managing personal care, taking care of home needs and so on.

A decade thereafter, Xiang Xiang now is a happy, grown-up man. He loves making friends and meeting friends in his workplace. Yes! You didn’t read it wrong. He is employed. NCF arranged a position for Xiang Xiang at a government-run sheltered workshop.

NCF has been so honored to accompany Xiang Xiang in the past decade. What NCF aims for is not merely a repair of a physical defect but the restoration of a whole life.

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