Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Little Ola

Little Ola desperately needs a home. I was referred this little boy by 2 people on the same day, and have seen him twice so far. He was abandoned at the Children's Hospital over a year ago, when they thought he might have been about 1 year old. So he's now maybe 2 or older, and he's still there.

He more than likely has a medically caused developmental delay, however a big cause of his delay I'm sure is due to his lack of stimulation, rarely being handled, let alone loved. He cannot roll over, play with his hands together, bring his legs up to his chest, sit up, or stand even supported.
He monotonously sucks his left thumb and thats about it. I'm not even sure if he cries.

I so desperately want to get him a new home.

The times I've been there it has torn me to find him in bedding and clothes soaked in urine, smelling like rats and watching the cockroaches run over the sheets like they are in a playground. It's horrid. How can anyone be left like this. But the nurses have sick patients to deal with, and Ola is not acutely unwell, he is just delayed. All the other patients have caring mothers at their cot sides, but not Ola, his bedside is empty.

Today, I spent ½ an hour treating Ola with simple positions like allowing him to lie on his belly to try to work is neck muscles, and putting him on his side to play with his hands and feet that he is unable to draw together to midline while lying on his back. These are all normal things a baby would get the opportunity to learn as they are handled, Ola has never had these chances as he is always left on his back in his cot.
After ½ an hour he was exhausted from all the work I was making him do! He doesn't often get the challenge of work! So since I really didn't have to get anywhere more urgent than this baby needed love, I decided to take him the the window for a little look as rested his head on my shoulder and had a cuddle. And there we stayed for the next ½ hour. Occasionally looking me in the eye, then glancing away again. The he'd turn his face back towards me and his big dark glassy eyes shone the reflection of my face, I prayed for him and I held him close, our breathing deep and slow, it was like he was SO appreciating the cuddle, the closeness, the body contact. Gradually his eyes dropped, and asleep he fell – probably the first time in a very long time that he has fallen to sleep in someone's arms.

The hardest thing was to lay this precious treasure of God's back into his bed of cockroaches and walk away.

I will continue to see him as often as I can, and in the meantime am looking for a new home for Ola. Please pray with me.

Monday, 27 August 2007

A HomeVisit like no other

So I last on my last home visit before I was to head for a Crio lesson.
I was tired from having walked all day from house to house, up and down a steep hillside in a community called Wellington.

We arrived at a house to see Emmanuel – a 2 year old with Cerebral Palsy affecting both his legs. This was my second visit to him and as soon as we entered the house, some bizarre noises could be heard from behind the curtain separating the 2 rooms of this small 'pan body' – (house made out of corrugated iron sheets). I couldn't quite work out what the groaning noises were, and after a few words were shared between my assistant Umaru and Emmanuel's mother, Umaru promptly declared that we had to leave. I hesitated as the mother was wanting her son treated since we had made the effort to come. However Umaru insisted, and said we'd come back later; so we left.

When I asked what was going on – he informed me that there was someone giving birth just behind the curtain that was flapping in the wind just 2 meters away from us!! And he as a male should be no where near those kind of events! Infact no-one in the neighbourhood is meant to know that the labour was happening, not until the baby has been born – we probably do not want to know how they keep the women from crying out loud enough for all to hear.

When Umaru said we'd come back later I thought he meant later that day, but I was informed by Umaru that “later here means anything from later that day to anytime in the next week or so.”

I had to have a little chuckle as we walked away, I was in total shock, would never happen in UK like that hey??

Next week I hope to see the new born baby and find out what all the commotion was about!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Billabong - Bumpalong

A saw a copy of the Billabong logo today which made me look twice. It was perfect in the right colours and style but said 'Bumpalong'! It made me laugh to myself, it was innocently on someone's backpac – i was so tempted to bump into him just for fun! He may not have found it so funny mind!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Sad leaving of Almamie from orphanage

Some of you may remember me talking about an orphan in Michaels orphanage that I was training to treat Michael when I was not there. Almamie was a great learner and handled Michael in such a gentle and loving manner. Having severe burns and an awful story of being orphaned too, I was sad to hear that he had left the orphanage after some problems. I've seen him since and he is safely staying with a local Pastor. I will meet him again I'm sure, but please keep him in your prayers.

Michaels chair

At last, the chair was finished for Michael. Abdulai the carpenter (on left in photo) has done a wonderful job of making my design a reality!

A few minor adjustments,

a hole for toileting.....

adequate pelvic support and a tabletop

and the finishing touch – Michael's name and a smiling, satisfied patient!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Gutted – bag snatched! Phone stolen :o(

Ok, so it was likely to happen, but it still wasn't nice to be the victim. My friend Sandra put it so well on her blog ( that I've nicked it (with her permission!)

Unfortunate Friday evening...
I was pretty excited about the upcoming weekend, however, it didn’t start out very well. Late afternoon on Friday (it was still light!) 4 of us (all women) decided to walk home, which we often do. However, on this particular day we were unlucky. One of my friends had a purse on her side and unfortunately a young guy that was running past must have spotted it, because he turned around and later snuck up behind us. Before we knew what was going on he grabbed the purse, ripped it off of her shoulder and attempted to get away. As my friend grabbed his arm, the purse fell to the ground. We thought he was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, however, we soon realized that all that remained in the purse was Le 10,000 (=£2); the phone had been stolen. My friend and I dashed across the street after him but to no avail. I have to be honest and say I was cautious in going after him because I was afraid he might have a knife. He quickly jumped over the wall at the golf course and we never saw him again. We shouted “thief” but the road was pretty deserted, other than a girl with a basket of goods on her head.
A group of people outside one of the beach bars only 5 minutes down the road heard the commotion and had actually seen the guy earlier on, before he ran past us. Some guys offered to go and look for the thief; “a guy in a purple jersey”. Which they did, but I’m sure he was long gone. And I’d never be able to recognize him if he wasn’t wearing the same purple shirt. We thought of going to the police station to file a report but figured that would probably take 3 hours, maybe a bribe, us providing paper and pen and in the end it wouldn’t bring the phone back. So we didn’t bother.
I felt really bad for my friend. It wasn’t an expensive phone, but had a lot of important contact information. Also, it’s just plain frustrating to have someone steal something from you, especially when you’re in another country, trying to help others. Sorry friend! Anyway, yes, this happened to us here at Lumley beach, in an area that is known for events as such. But to be honest, this happens to people in Freetown all the time. And for that matter probably in a number of big cities all over the world. We were just unlucky.

So there you have it – I was got! Discouraged me for a bit, but I'm up and running again now – there was nothing more I could really have done to have been an safer in that situation, but still I walk with more caution and am thanking the Lord it wasn't a worse attack – it could have been nasty.

Would quite like to get a car now too – not only for protection, but also to make work home visits easier and therefore be able to see more patients in less time, and move bigger bits of equipment around with me more easily. I've got my eye on a good one – a Landrover named Gertrude (my it's current owner!), but need to see if the finances can stretch that far. Please pray with me for provision.

Thanks you all again.

Ward aerobics - The ladies love it!!!

Just another little idea of mine to keep our ladies busy, fit, breathing deeply, and of course my speciality – SMILING! At the Mercy Ships hospital where I work one day a week, these ladies are waiting for, or recovering from surgery to repair fistula's (holes down below often caused by obstructed labours, causing incontinence, which in turn often casts them from family and society – the Dr's here will hate that description as it's much more complicated than that, but trying to keep it simple!). Anyway these ladies can be admitted from 2 weeks or longer. As well as their medical care, they also join in with literacy, skills, colouring, peer support, devotions and informal counselling. But some of the time they sit around with not a lot to do. So in I come with some gentle but very fun group exercise classes, it gets them moving, breathing, and blood circulating – we have a ball!
Just look at those smiles! It got to be good for you!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Coke can Hand splints!

Who would have thought that a last minute hand splinting course I found myself on literally 2 days before I left UK to come to SL, would come in use this quickly!! Ok so my materials were somewhat more basic than we had learnt with, but I was pretty chuffed with my first attempt at a coke can splint for his little boy Alfred who was born with Erbs Palsy.

Ever had your nose picked by somebody else??

Ok, so the truth be told - even though I blush a little telling....
I was innocently having a drink with a friend this afternoon, who had just accompanied me on a 3 hour walk up and down and round and round a mountain (ok, maybe hill, but it was HOT!), in search of 3 patients (only found 1)

anyway, back to the story,

when they said 'hang on just a minute, you've got something.........
as they loomed toward me with a pointing finger......
before i knew it THEY HAD THEIR FINGER UP MY NOSE getting out the offending bogey!!! Presumably from all the heavy breathing in of dust and dirty as i coped with our little trek!
I was so embarrassed, but they were not at all,
our conversation continued on as if nothing had even happened!

it's made me laugh since though!
can you imagine??

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Calling Skypers!

So you might have thought that Facebook was the latest craze - but I want you to think again!

(although I love facebook too)

I want you all to become SKYPERS!!

then i can call you for free! and you can call me for free!

not only that my lovely housegroup gave me a webcam, so no more do you need to pine for my smiley face - but if you become a skyper, you can even see me live too!!!!

what you waiting for....

x x x

Voting Over!

So the end of the week-end has come, the voting is over, and the counting has begun.
It's been amazingly peaceful, and we hope it stays that way.

After a week of political party campaigning and the streets being full of literally thousands of people at a time, I decided to move in with the MercyShips house over the weekend - safety in numbers - and I just like being a 'stow away' with them. It's been nice to just be around good friends to enjoy a few giggles over food, games, and movies. We had to stay on the compound for security while the voters were doing their thing - but we has a sneaky look over the wall by climbing up onto the generator roof overlooking the local polling station.

It was noisy! The constant babble of voices could be heard from 7am onwards for the rest of the day. Sometimes it rose, sometimes it quietened, but all in all an on-going friendly atmosphere was the order for the day. I can't help but know that God's sovereign hand had something to do with the amazing calmness that was about.

So now we wait as the results get gathered from all over the country. It's amazing to think that in order to reach the most remote places here, the ballots travel by canoe, motorbike, 4x4's; quite a feat really to try to get to everyone. Once a voter had voted they got their fingertip dyed to show they could not vote again. me being me asked what if they had no hands (it's a reality here unfortunately), in that case apparently a relative or son went with them and had their finger dyed instead.

we hope to know the future government of SL in the next 12 days. We hope for wise leaders who will make sustainable change for the good.

Keep praying for us as the results are announced - that all will accept the answer, and not cause trouble.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Watch out! Vez is Plastering!!

Poor Helen,

a slippery slide into a hole left her with a broken wrist,

it was a good job her husband Dr Dave was at the seen to relocate the bones straight away

but we thought just for a bit of weekend entertainment that I'd have a go at putting on the plaster cast.....

it was better than the other options available

not to mention more convenient

I've only ever done ankles before and that was for stretching purposes, not breaks,

but same principal....

and with the help of a OT,


......................... creativity flowed!!

until the cat got involved!

We all had a giggle though, and it didn't turn out too bad actually!

Who's my next victim........eeerrrr.....patient?!

Where's that cat?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

July 2007 Newsletter From Verity – Adventures in Sierra Leone

Hello all,
So I thought it was about time I filled you in on how I've been getting on.
I've been settling down well and can't believe I've already been here a month. Emma, the physio student, I had here for 3 weeks was a real blessing. It was great to have someone to chat with and travelling across the city to new places and meeting new people is always less threatening when there are 2 of you.
My new home is working out well. Not sure if I did something wrong though – a few weeks into arriving here, one house mate went back to USA for a holiday, another travelled to Liberia, another is leaving for good this week, and Emma left last week!! But I'm finding it a peaceful place to be. A place that I'm using for a work base, a place to see friends and catch up and a place to lay my head for rest and sleep. I've set up my hammock (thanks Trish) and made my room my own with plenty of photos.
Amazingly we have had loads of NPA – the country's national electricity supply. It's because the elections are imminent. And because we collect our rain water as our main water supply, we can use as much water as we like for now. It's raining so hard, somedays all day. I've been getting very wet. And it's cold!! (Comparatively of course, it's still warmer than in UK right now). I've had to go out and buy jeans and beg jumpers from people. I wake up cold at night and pile on the layers!!! No, I couldn't believe it either. That's what I get for assuming it's sweaty hot here all year round!!
As far as the work goes, I've had a great start. I'm so pleased that God has been literally taking me to the places where the most disabled kids are being hidden. I've visited a few different organisations and met so many people, and one by one these little treasures are coming to the surface. I'm being taken to the places these children are staying and get so excited when another one is found. It feels like I'm opening this huge treasure chest of these precious children. Of course I've seen some other kids too that i've needed to refer to other places, or have advised regarding Polio, bony probs, infections, amputees. But the ones I'm really after are the kids with severe developmental delay – caused by all sorts from problems at birth, or being tied up and abandoned, sometimes half buried, to being traffiked and abused, to being used in ceremonial rituals. It's a crazy and unfair world here, but in my eyes, these are children loved by God and so precious to me. Finding a way to encourage them in their homes whether that be with their own family close or distant, in orphanages or in 'foster' type families, it's a challenge but a very deserving one.
Let me tell you about Michael. He was born 10 years ago, and was left tied up in a ditch, probably because all 4 of his limbs were was severely disabled from birth. He eventually was taken to Henry's orphanage, who has 20 other children to look after too. Michael looks like a 7 year old, very thin and drawn, with a cough and was sat on the floor with his legs outstretched. They were not sure if his legs even were able to bend. He manages to feed himself and can make a few noises but nothing that makes much sense. Michael has an amazing smile. I have been working with another boy called Alimamy who is 14 and lives at the orphanage because he lost all his family when the rebels burnt down his house, although he escaped the flames he suffered severe burns as a result. I have been training Alimamy to help Michael with handling, positioning, encouraging function and play, and some stretches. To their surprise Michaels legs do bend when they are relaxed, and we are in the process of making a special chair to support him better in a position he can join in with what is going on around him. Alimamy is a great learner, he is being the gentle hands of care that Michael really needs to have a chance to develop new skills and join in more. They seem to have a special communication between them, and it is so encouraging to see them together. I hope and pray that each of the kids I see like this will have their own Alimamy in one way or another.
There is so much other work I've been involved in too. Emma and I have been working with the MercyShips Rehab Team to evaluate the design of wheelchairs used locally, which often don't last long due to the terrain. The work with the ladies who have suffered fistulas has been a little quiet as the rainy season means less screening and surgeries for now. We have also done some training for staff at a home for the physically disabled, which was very fun!! It was all going well until I made the director of the project, nicely dressed in her business suit, sit on a gym ball then reach so far that she fell off!! Not what should be done to the person you should be giving most respect to, let alone infront of all her staff!! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, until she burst out laughing, then so did we and all the staff too. Thank God for a little giggle to ease a tense situation!
So for those who pray, I would love you to join me in praying for a few things:
~ The Governmental Elections on 11th August – this is so important, there is a lot of tension in the air and no one really knows what is going to happen. I've been trying to stay clear of the political demonstrations, but please pray for my and everyone's safety during this period. The majority want peace, but one or two little sparks is all it takes. SL needs a fair, wise and peace loving leader. There are 3 major parties competing.
~ For Michael and Alimamy, and Henrys' orphanage.
~ To find more of these little treasures and be able to make helpful changes to them and their carer's lives.
~ For continued good health, despite the cold, change of diet and exhaustion levels.
~ For my on-going situation with transport. Public transport is cheap, but very time consuming, exhausting and stressful. It took me 3 hours to get home one day last week, yesterday it was 2 ½ hours in the rain! Some places I need to go are not safe to do by public transport at the moment either because the roads are even worse than normal due to the rains. I'm still thinking about getting a car, but working out the practicalities and finances are another thing.
~ For a continued knowledge of God's presence and grace in my life.
So that's all for now, hope you've enjoyed reading? Like I said, I'll be updating my blog more regularly with more day to day stories, so check it out. And I love to get emails from people to hear about ' normal' life stuff at home, just sorry if my contact is a little more sporadic due to lack of internet time.
Love to you all,

“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves are pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14