Rahma, the Nigerian teen who lives in a plastic bowl, dreams of running her own business

Rahma Haruna's limbs stopped developing when she was a baby.

Rahma Haruna’s limbs stopped developing when she was a baby. Credit: Sani Maikatanga / Barcroft Image

When Rahma Haruna was six months old, her arms and legs stopped developing.

Now 19, she lives with her family in the village of Lahadin Makole, close to Kano in Nigeria.

Contending with chronic pain, she is practically immobile and spends most of her waking hours in a plastic bowl, which her family transport her around in.

Rahma being fed in her bowl on June 21 2016

Rahma being fed in her bowl on June 21 2016. Credit: Sani Maikatanga / Barcroft Image

Her mother Fadi said: “From six months when she learnt how to sit that was when it began. She didn’t learn how to crawl.

“She started with a fever and that was it. Then stomach pains. Then her body parts like hands and legs. She cannot use any if the ache strikes.”

For much of her life Rahma’s family would carry her in her bowl, with her brother Fahad taking her into Kano each day to beg for handouts. However, last year a journalist, Ibrahim Jirgi, gave the family a wheelchair.

 

The Haruna family also experienced an upturn in their fortunes when local freelance photographer Sani Maikatanga shared images of Rahma on social media, which prompted an inundation of requests from strangers who wanted to help in any way they could.

 

The family are now hoping to be offered some kind of medical support. Although Rahma has received some consultations, her condition has never been professionally diagnosed.

Fahad told reporters that he takes particular care of his sister: “I help her in many ways. Bathing her is another thing I do, and taking her out every day.

Rahma and Fahad

Rahma and Fahad. Credit: Sani Maikatanga / Barcroft Image

“I feel happy whenever I see people helping her. I like taking her to our relatives. She feels happy when we visit them.”

Despite her severe disability, Rahma has entrepreneurial ambitions: “I want to start a business,” she said. “A grocery store and anything people buy, that is what I want.”

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