Gants Hill father describes moment his eight-year-old daughter takes her first steps after life-changing operation in US

An eight-year-old girl with cerebral palsy came back from America with a message for Recorder readers – thank you for helping me walk.

Mahlica Ajaib has never walked and suffered terrible pain from her condition, with the vital treatment she needed not available in the UK.

Her family beat their fundraising target of �55,000 for the two operations she needed to lengthen her muscles.

After seeing her take her first steps her father Atif, 37, said: “I didn’t expect her to do it, I thought it would take months of physio. All I could see was her foot moving forward, it was very emotional.

“She took her first step and was so happy she said ‘daddy it feels like I’ve got a new pair of legs’”.

She went to the US for the life changing surgery with her twin sister Naseem, her mum Freeha, 34, and dad.

The family first approached the Recorder earlier this year to help publicise their efforts to raise enough money for the operation.

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Mr Ajaib, of Castleview Gardens, Gants Hill, said: “After we spoke to the Recorder it was just a few months to her taking her first steps, it’s like a dream come true.

“I was overwhelmed by the support coming in –before I felt I couldn’t cope with it all.”

In April the family had raised �10,000 towards the procedure – this figure now stands at more than �60,000.

The extra money will be put towards the costs of physiotherapy which Mahlica will need for more than a year to help her walk completely unaided.

Mr Ajaib said: “I was looking at raising money for the physio as a long term thing. It was amazing the support from the local community as a whole and it’s so nice to see that continuing. ”

Mahlica is recovering from the operations more quickly than her surgeons expected and they are now confident that she will be able to walk unaided.

Mr Ajaib said: “She’s more flexible in sitting and standing.

“It was so overwhelming. I said ‘well done – it’s the beginning of a new chapter for you’.”