Bullet stole only a bit of Ashline’s spunk

Ashline Telmarks, 6, and her grandmother, Arletha Abrahams, while she was still recovering in hospital, after being caught in gang crossfire in Hanover Park.

Eighteen months after being hit by a stray bullet that changed her whole life, Ashline Telmarks, 6, is still as feisty as ever.

Little Ashline was playing in a park near her great-grandparents’ home in Algoa Court, Hanover Park, when she was caught in gang crossfire on January 27 last year. (“Are you happy now?’’, Athlone News, February 1, 2017).

She spent months recovering at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, after which she was transferred to the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre. At the time, the then five-year-old’s family was told by doctors that she might never be able to walk again. However, with therapy and her can-do attitude, she is now able to walk a few steps.

The bullet caused damage to her spine, lung, kidney and uterus. She has no control over her bowel movements and will have to wear a catheter for life. With therapy, she is now able to take a few steps with the help of splints.

However, according to her grandmother, Arletha Abrahams, as her body will develop over the years, her upper body might become too heavy for her lower body, and she might end up being permanently wheelchair-bound.

“She is a very independent child. Everything another child can do, she will attempt to do it too. She tries her utmost best. As her family, she inspires us so much in different ways. She has learnt how to catheterize herself, as she does not want to be dependent on anybody,” Ms Abrahams said.

Ashline is currently staying at St Joseph’s Home in Montana, as she would not be able to cope with the flight of stairs at her family’s flat in Hanover Park.

Despite all the hardship she has endured, Ms Abrahams said she remains the sunshine in their lives. The trauma of the shooting has left a mark on her though.

“Ashline is not the chatterbox she used to be. She has become a bit of an introvert, and she does not speak about the shooting incident at all,” Ms Abrahams said.

Ms Abrahams added that they will do whatever it takes to make things more comfortable for her.