Kanhu Raka is a 9 year old girl who has only just started to see the light of day. Today, she does not even want to know how to live in the dark again. The light began to shine for this little girl, Kamayura – help us to keep it lit.

The Kamaiurá do not accept children with any kind of physical or mental disability. Generally babies born with problems are buried soon after delivery. When the problem manifests itself later on, as in Kanhu’s case, the child usually escapes being sacrificed, but becomes a victim of what is called “social death.” Kanhu escaped being buried alive, but had to live as a total recluse in a dark capsule improvised inside the tribal hut, lined with blankets and nets. She grew up unable to play around the village with the other children, hidden away from the distrustful eyes of the community. Gradually her condition worsened and she lost the ability to walk. Her hands and feet were atrophied and she was plagued by pain in her body.

Kanhu Raka was born in the Xingu Indigenous Park. The first daughter of Makaw and Maitsuwy, granddaughter of the general chief of the Kamayura. She went through all the rituals and was treated with great affection by all the relatives of their community house.

The concern for the family came only later, when Kanhu was about four years old. The girl started to feel a weakness in her legs and often fell. The family took her to the village health clinic but no one knew what the problem was. The situation worsened to the point where Kanhu could no longer stand and had to be carried by her parents. At that time the prejudice of the community began to manifest itself.

Kotok Kamayura, Kanhu’s grandfather, sought help from an ATINI team visiting the village at the time of the Kwaryp ritual. I remember that we entered the hut and were taken to the “capsule” where Kanhu was kept in seclusion. The place was so dark that our only contact with her was through touch. The next day we returned with a flashlight and we could see the girl’s beautiful and smiling face. The family was going through a very difficult time and asked us for help.

We took Kanhu to do some exams at the Genome Institute at the University of São Paulo, and the diagnosis was clear – Progressive Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable and debilitating disease. Kanhu’s family decided not to go back to the village with her and try a course of treatment to improve the girl’s quality of life. ATINI provided a house, food and accompaniment for Kanhu and his family. Now, three months later, Kanhu looks like another child. Full of joy, she cannot wait to do physical therapy (it’s three sessions a day!), to study and play with other children. Little by little she is recovering from the damage caused by the long period of isolation – she is no longer in pain and is able to walk short distances! ATINI is talking with the Kamayurá about the possible reintegration of Kanhu in their community. Meanwhile, the family has decided to stay in Brasília, where Kanhu can get treatment and develop with freedom.

Kanhu needs wheelchairs to get around and orthotics to avoid foot atrophy. Her family needs food and clothing. She and her sisters need school supplies. Make a donation this Christmas. Help Kanhu, who does not even want to think about living in the dark again! The light has begun to shine for this little Kamayura Indian, help us to keep it lit.