Friday, 28 September 2007

SOS Children

I work at an NGO called SOS Childrens Home for the Physically Challenged on Thursdays. They are normally long days and full of fun and kids!

Every child in the home has a disability of some description - either a deformity they were born with like club foot or Cererbral Palsy, or have amputated limbs, or Polio.
I'm working my way through assessing them all, in order to set them up with an programe to improve on their level of functioning and independance. Some are needing new prosthetics or orthotics / callipers, so for them I'm liasing with other NGO's such as my old collegues at MercyShips New Steps, or another NGO called Handicap International. It is good to link and network with other organisations so as not to repeat work, but instead to fill the gaps.

Happy shouts for "Auntie Kadiatu" (my Sierra Leone name coz Verity or Vez is too hard) can be heard from the moment I arrive to the moment I leave.

Although exhausted I love to leave to the little waving hands and big smiles, knowing it will all start again the week after.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Hope's Promise Orphanage

Meet Aminata..... she is a 6 month old who is (we think ...) deaf and only partially sighted. Her mother died and her father was unable to cope with her and numerous other kids, so he gave Aminata to this loving home.
I have been working with the helpers there to explain why she is slow to develop and have encouraged them with ways to help her learn using her other senses. She is now feeding well and has even started to smile.
Animata is another of God's little treasures and with time we hope she will develop in her own special way.

After treating several of the kids at this home, it was then time for general play with everyone!!
Craziness erupts!
But what fun we had building houses and snakes out of wooden bricks. These kids love to play when they get the chance, but need surprizingly lots of help with knowing how to play, even with something as simple as wooden bricks.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Ola is still doing well.....

He's loving all the attention he's getting from the girls....

the bald patch of hair on his head from lying on his back all the time has grown back already....

and is gradually putting on some weight.

Praise God for these answered prayers.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Quick update!

Election results are out...
SL has a new President; The Honorary Ernest Bai Koroma, of the APC political party

Town has been full of armed police military checking vehicles for anything suspicious
Things are little tense, but generally quiet with not many incidents

Work has been quieter for me this week as trying to keep low and reduce risk!

Ola has settled into new home in Wellington so well

My other little treasures in various places in outskirts of Freetown are keeping me busy

I've officially started Crio lessons

I've nearly got a new car – waiting on news about how much taxes will be

Sierra Leone beaches are still the best!

I made plantain and green bean stew for dinner – it was delicious!
Shame about the glass of water I'd been drinking from not realizing it was full of ants too!

In one patients house this week, not only did I have to quitely ignore a mouse I'd seen twice, but then got really disturbed by the rat in the corner then under the bed! When I asked if they were afraid of rats, they said no, we get used to them being around all the time!!

I've had our night guards looking out for Father Christmas this week, I had to give a detailed description of what he looks like and his mode of transport!! They had no idea! I think they think I'm crazy!!

It's nearly stopped raining

Hope you are all well too,
email me your news!


Thursday, 13 September 2007

SUCH A BEAUIFUL DAY! For OLA, for ME and for his new FAMILY!

I don't even know where to start.

Ola has a new home!

Praise God with us for ALL the glory goes straight to HIM. It has all happened so quickly, unheard of in Africa where nothing is simple or straightforward. But after a few meetings and talks with Hospital management and Ministry of Social Welfare, and I'm so happy to say that today Ola went to his new home in Wellington, an area on the east side of Freetown.

As I approached Ola's hospital cot for the last time, his smile beamed as I picked him up for a cuddle and whispered in his ear 'I promised you we'd get you out of here into a loving home, and today is the day.' After goodbyes to a few faithful ones who had been washing his clothes and trying to feed him, we left the hospital. Even the breeze and the sun on his face seemed such a strange sensation to him. I held him tight in my lap as the car left the compound and still Ola was smiling. His big eyes were wide with wonder and delight. New sights and sounds flashed across the window, and as this unexplored world opened up to Ola for the first time. It was such a privilege to be witness to something so precious, I'll never forget that moment.

As Pastor Hassan drove up the hillside where the 4HIM orphanage is, the road got worse, but Ola got more and more excited about the bumpy ride he was getting! Pastor Hassan runs the 4HIM Ministry here in SL and has been amazing at making this all happen so smoothly. Thank God for him and his family and their faithfulness to caring for these children.
We entered Ola's new home to colourful signs made by his new brothers and sisters, and were welcomed with a special welcome song from the approx 50 kids in the home already, and of course the drums were beating and Ola was loving it!!

I tried to give some simple advice on caring for him to his new 'mum' (or grandmum as they said because of course I'm really the mum!) and a few of the older girls who will be caring for him. His new bed is in the girls dorm and having not been able to get any useful info from the children's ward about what his sleeping pattern was like I hope they all get some rest!

After meeting all these new people, the celebration, having a good bath, clean clothes, a sloppy meal of 'pap' and some heartfelt prayers, Ola was probably totally exhausted and overwhelmed with such attention. I trust his life into the Lord's hands and know that all is well with him as I sleep peacefully totally exhausted myself too!

Please keep praying for Ola to settle well to his new home of love and security, for Ola's new mum - Isatu, for Pst Hassan and family, for all the other kids in the home. And especially for Ola's feeding, he does not have a very good swallow and it is the one aspect of his care I'm most worried about. It is so important he gets enough nutrition, but also that the food does not go down onto his lungs causing an infection.

I'll be going back on Monday to see how they are getting on.

As my friend Stefanie who was with me today said “It was the most beautiful day for so many reasons.”

Friday, 7 September 2007

Ola nearly has a new home

I jumped around my house for a while when I got the phone call to say that Pastor Hassan wanted to take Ola into his orphanage.

This is the best orphanage and most Christ led home, I had been to here in SL, so I thought I'd just ask (even though Ola is younger than all the other children by a fair way, would be the only disabled kid, and the home was already full).

The same day the Pastor sent down his Social Workers to check out the situation. They came back agreeing this loving little boy needed to get out of there! They contacted the hospital administration and the Ministry of Social Welfare, have already submitted the paper work and meet on Monday to discuss. I've only been in the background which is great so not to be getting involved in 'white man prices' being asked – just to see what they can get out of it.
God is smiling on Ola, and when I whispered in his ear the news when I was there the next day, I'm sure he knows something is happening. Again he melted into my arms for a cuddle. He has a chest infection too at the moment – another reason why he should be being picked up and moved into different positions.

I praise God for this quick answering of prayers, it is amazing too that the orphanage are going to employ another lady to work with Ola one on one while the older children will also be involved when not at school. I'm so happy at this real answer to prayer for Ola to get the real Christ-like loving family that he's never had and so desperately needs.

Thanks for all your prayer – now remember to give God all the glory.

If you could also pray for the paperwork to go through as fast as possible.

I'll post a photo of Ola as soon as I can, but for now it's not appropriate to take a camera into a government hospital! Maybe when he gets to him new home!

Monday, 3 September 2007

August 2007 Newsletter – Adventures in Sierra Leone

I'm getting ever so confused, August means the height of summer to me, and here it's been raining, raining, raining. I often get soaked through despite an umbrella and have become a master at wrapping everything in plastic bags. I hear the UK hasn't been much of a summer either though with floods and coldness, at least here it is vaguely warm, although I'm still cold in the evenings and at night time.

So the month of August has been a time of ups and downs.

There has been the elections on 11th Aug that came and went fairly peacefully and it's been declared fairly. Praise God for that. SL was doing so well, however as there was not one presidential candidate that won with enough of a majority, there will be another voting day next Saturday (8th Sept). Unfortunately the tension is mounting because the 2 competing parties; SLPP and APC are largely grounded in the 2 largest tribes Mende and Temne. So the elections are not only political but also very tribal and history makes these two groups very competitive against each other, probably for reasons no-one can remember. There have been rumours of all sorts, but reports of fighting in various towns including here in Freetown, Police using tear-gas to control crowds, hidden weapons in the backs of cars, 2 houses being burnt down and people being taken to hospital after fighting has broken out. These warning signs are being taken seriously and peace is trying to be maintained. We're all praying that nothing gets worse than this. This week there has been a peace march in which both potential presidents took part. As said previously, most want peace, but it only takes a few troublemakers. Please pray with us for this week, the election day on Saturday, and the implications of the results being announced afterwards.

My work has continued as and when it has been safe to move around avoiding the crowds and trouble areas. I'm so excited that the children who I can most help are gradually coming to light. Word is getting around that there's a children's physiotherapist in SL and this month I've done a lot of networking. From this, more and more referrals are coming my way, and it confirms again that there is such great need with these forgotten children.
I have particularly been involved in a little boy Ola, maybe 3 years old, who was abandoned in a government hospital over a year ago. He has a developmental delay, but lacking in basic care and receiving next to no handling, he has never really had the chance to develop. Ola is easy to love, his big smile reaches the depths of any human heart. But still left lying on his back, I'm sure he longs for a familiar face to stay around long enough to love more. Along with some basic therapy, some of my time with him is spent cuddling him. When he fell asleep in my arms I did wonder when the last time was that he had that chance. I'm contacting orphanages and potential carers, trying to get him a loving home, where he will get a chance to develop and grow as a child of God.
Michael, who I wrote about last month has proudly received his new custom made support chair. He spent the day with me at MercyShips New Steps and went home with a big smile on his face. Already it has made a difference in how he can use his hands for things like feeding and playing. We are hoping to work on his communication next. To see some photos, click onto my blog.
Work has also involved making hand splints out of coke cans, trekking 3 hours up and down steep hillsides on home visits, helping a teenage boy get the surgery he needed on a very painful arm amputation stump, evaluating the use and effectiveness of wheelchairs in a typical African environment, cutting one home visit very short when I realised there was a lady in the next room behind a very thin curtain giving birth (that would so never happen in UK!), working with carpenters on another special seat, helping a pastor who had had a severe stroke learn how to sit up by himself and teaching relatives how to transfer him safely into a wheelchair, then to be taken outside his dark bedroom for the 1st time in 3 months, and starting up a ward aerobics session for the in-patients at the MercyShips fistula hospital.
I've been busy!

Another bad happening was that I got mugged. I thank God for his protection though as the 'thiefman' (as they get called here), only got away with my phone, nothing else and no-one was hurt. It really could have been a lot worse. I was so annoyed more at all the info inside the phone that I lost. Thankfully, most of my patient contacts I had written down on their notes as well, but I lost all my UK numbers and addresses. So if you'd like to help me get my paper address book (I'm not taking any more chances!) up to date, please do send me a quick email with your numbers and info. It gave me a wake up call too though as I was with 3 other girls just walking home with next to no valuables on me and I normally move around alone with a lot more. I am doing everything I can to keep safe, but sometimes these things just happen.

For many reasons I feel it is now time to be getting a car. It would obviously help to keep me safer, but it was also allow me more freedom to get to patients where the roads are too bad to travel by public transport, and would help me be more efficient going from place to place on my home visits. It can be so frustrating to have a really long day, travelling on and off public transport to get from home to home, seeing only maybe 3 or 4 patients then sitting for 2 hours trying to get home again. Having a car would allow easier access to these kids, I could see more in one day and I could also transport them and or equipment to places more easily too. I have found a LandRover in good condition that would be excellent to go for, but it costs £4000. Now I'm praying!

So as you can see, work is keeping me busy, home is the place I rest, but due to the current situations here with both the elections and rains, I'm not really able to do much else at the weekends. I've been finding myself a bit lonely recently which has led me to take imaginary trips while I lie in a candlelight room, doing all my favourite things back home, like cycling in the South Downs and walking around Chichester with friends – it's been fun!!

So if you can keep praying for:

* PEACE during this time of change in SL, thank God for the good 1st round.
* SAFETY as I travel around doing my work, thank Him for his promise of protection
* JOY for the disabled kids I come in contact with
* LOVING HOMES for all children, where kindness and gentleness abound
* A NEW HOME for Ola
* PATIENCE as I continue to battle the crossing of cultures
* a peace of mind and Spirit for myself

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

So there comes a time when I have to say good bye again, I really miss you all, and greatly value your support and friendship on this journey God has me on for now.

Do look up my blog from time to time, I update it at least once a week,

Bye to you all,