Tuesday, 30 October 2007

News from October 07 - Jungle Physio swings through another month....

October has continued to be another very busy month. It's been great, but I have to admit I'm feeling slightly exhausted at the end of it, and was forced to take a little rest when I had my first tummy upset since I arrived. I'm still trying to take it a bit slower, but with the new referrals rolling in it's hard to say no.

This month has brought visitors from Rotary clubs all over UK. They have been such a blessing, not only
because they brought chocolate, stability boots and loads of toys I can use in my treatment sessions with the kids, but also because they gave me a great opportunity to bring big smiles to loads of my kids faces. How? A trip to the beach, something they don't often get the chance to do despite living so close to the beautiful ocean. But I can tell you it sure was a sight; 30 disabled kids all running, hopping, crawling into the sea, some cautiously, some head first, others not really sure how, but through the arms and legs I tried to make sure everyone was surfacing for air!

Right at the beginning of the month my LandRover, Bertie, arrived outside my house. I have already traveled many miles in this wonderful gift. Thank you to all who have helped to make this happen. I've been zooming around and it has made visiting kids in their own homes so much more viable. It has also been used to transport patients to other organizations to receive equipment, callipers and receive medical help.
Just this week I stumbled across a very sick 1 month old baby at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and to cut a very long story short, thanks to Bertie, I was able to take the baby and mother to a hospital for treatment, a 2 hour drive across the mountains. I can honestly say, that baby's life was certainly saved because of Bertie.

Aminata is a 10 year old, with Cerebral Palsy affecting her arms, legs and trunk. She is so clever and cheeky that she has been a joy to treat. She was referred to me from Mercy Ships and when I saw her address was on the same road that I live on I was surprised that I had not seen her around (lets say it's very easy to get to know your neighbors when you stick out like a bright white light everywhere you go!). So I sought her out, and found her with about 6 adults squatting in a house that was in the process of being built. It was not their house, and the 2nd time I went to find her they'd been kicked out. Asking around a bit I was taken to another place, near the market, tucked behind a corner, a tiny little one bedroomed hut, packed in amongst many of the same, where many families were all living together. I haven't been able to work out who Aminata's real family is, but she's never alone, I always seem to get a crowd of 15 or so people wanting to watch the 'white man' (in Crio they don't separate gender)
work. So after I've tried to get rid of as many spectators as possible, I've been able to teach one old woman some stretches, and have spent a lot of time with Aminata working on the co-ordination of her upper limbs and function of her hands. She loves the stacking cups (thanks Emma), but isn't so good at the number playing cards!! Aminata has never been to school and probably never will. So we're learning numbers together.

So, life continues to be colourful! Many more homes have been visited, kids treated, parents supported, roads (and some tracks pretending to be roads) driven on! I thank God for giving me the strength to keep going, but I sure need more!

Please also note my change of email address if you didn't know already: vez@junglephysio.co.uk

If you'd like to pray with me, heres a few pointers:

# Thanks for Bertie!
# Pray for strength and good health
# Peaceful sleep, not thinking about patients and circumstances all the time
# For Aminata, Mariatu and Zainab (the baby and mum), Ola, Michael, Musu and all my other kids I've not had a chance to tell you about
# For Wilehmina (Mina) who I've not had a chance to tell you about either but is mum of one of my patients who started working 1 day a week with me – more info to come
# For continued safety as I move around in Bertie and by foot still to the real hard places to get to
# For rest and fun when I take some time off when my dad comes to visit 16th Nov for 10 days (very excited!)

“Where can go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens you are there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139:7-10

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


My new car arrived! Isn't he handsome?
It has been some time in organising paper work, but nothing happens quickly in SL. Patience is a good thing to learn and I felt all along that this was the one God wanted me to have, so didnt get at all stressed that is was taking too long, been too busy anyway. God had it in hand and now He has entrusted it in my hands.
Thank you to all who have contributed money and prayers towards it, my work will hopefully be much more efficient and less exhausting now, not to mention safer moving around. Such a blessing to be thankful for.
The previous owner called it Gertrude, however my cars have always been guys - (Sharky and Rusty Amos), more protective i like to think! So I have given this lovely green Landrover Defender a sex change and called him Bertie. Gert / Bert, it's kind of close.
Very excited about getting aroud in him, but also need much bravery and confidence in tackling not only bad roads, but also very bad drivers.
As they say here I'll have to 'very be careful.'

Monday, 8 October 2007

Only in Africa....

I keep meaning to start my Only in Africa list and never get round to it, so I'll start with a few funnies now.

Only in Africa would you.......

With-hold from getting on a particuar PodaPoda (public transport) because you see the passenger in front of you get on with a monkey.

Sit on a PodaPoda, to find you neighbour holding a chicken on her lap...but not just that, but that the chicken is in the process of laying an egg! The owner kept turning the chicken upside down to blow on her bum to try and delay the process, fragile eggs on bumpy roads, journey lasting a good 45mins and very squashed with other passengers, the egg is better kept in the chicken than out!

Have to laugh to yourself as you walk up a mountain, through half built houses and tiptoe round huge rocks to get to a patients home.

Carry a bucket cut in half (styled into a supportive feeding seat for a patient) across a city on public transport, getting more strange looks and shouts than I normally do.

Not go anywhere without tucking a bit of toilet paper into your knickers - just in case.

Not be ashamed to have sweat dripping down your face, neck, body, legs. It's totally normal!

Be able to walk down a street, suck on an orange and spit the pips out and not have anyone bat an eyelid. In fact i think I got less attention then, than I do when I'm walking trying to keep my head low.

Carry your phone charger to biblestudy then ask when you get there if you can charge your phone as you haven't had electricity for a week in your own house!

Feel proud when you manage to cook a whole meal by candle light.

Dine by candlelight as a norm, not a romantic mood setting.

Watch kittens play for half an hour as a replacement for a wind down after work TV show 'Neighbours'

As I've confessed before, ...go on imaginary trips to favourite places at home in UK when I'm missing home.

I'm sure to be adding more...watch this space.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

A trip to the beach with a difference

Ever taken 35 disabled kids to the beach? well that was what we did on Saturday afternoon!
there is a short-term team of Rotarians here working with MercySips at the moment. They didnt have much to do on their Saturday afternoon, so I came up with the crazy suggestion of taking all the SOS kids to the beach.

We had so much fun and I think the kids enjoyed it too.

We packed the bus twice over with excited kids and ensured that all who wanted to go into the water did - legs, not working legs or no legs. They seemed to love just being washed up and down the shore with the breaking waves, my swin suit was full of sand from sitting with them climbing all over me. I took a trip a little deeper to try and off-load my sand deposits before I walked up the beach with my nappy of sand!

We got many a stare from passers by, in fact a crowd soon built around us, they'd never seen anything like it.

But it was well worth it!


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A month of NEW…..

God has been so good.

Work continues to be exciting and prosperous. Ola the young boy I was telling you about last month who had been abandoned in the hospital has a NEW home, NEW brothers and sisters and found a NEW kind of life - LOVE. It was a day full of smiles all round. I still get cuddles with Ola, but now in a house at the top of a mountain with beautiful views. I’m often very hot and sweaty by the time I get there, but that does not stop the welcome from all the kids, not just Ola.

Then there has been the NEW President of Sierra Leone. After a long period of campaigning, elections, then repeat elections, SL finally has a new leader, the Honourable Ernest Bai Koroma, and a NEW government. We hope and pray for this NEW hope this brings for SL.

There has been NEW patients being referred. Some from official organisations, some from people who have heard about the work I’m doing and seek me out to help a neighbour, relative, friend, or even stranger on the street they see regularly - it all works by relationships and word of mouth here!

Aminata, is a beautiful baby who is likely deaf and partially sighted. Because of this she is delayed with her development. I’m working with the orphanage (Hopes Promise) which is home for her for now. The staff there have quickly taken up advice and already improvements are being noticed.

At SOS, the boarding -school type home I work at on Thursdays, has seen a return of the children from their families for the start of the NEW school term. All these kids are disabled in some way from amputee, to polio, to cerebral palsy and clubfeet. Their happy faces tell part of the fun we have together on my visits there. Some of the older kids have started asking questions about God and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m hoping to start a small bible study / question group there. I love the way these beautiful feet are starting to walk in God’s way.

I could tell you so many stories about Marvin a child born with Erb’s Palsy, Kadiatu a teenager with no legs, Alima who was severly burnt in a fire, Baby Hawinatu born with clubfeet, Musu with severe cerebral palsy….. But there just is not time or space to tell all their stories.
But I will tell you that Michael who we made the special chair for has learnt a new way to communicate. He is unable to speak, but is in fact very clever. He uses cards to answer questions, or communicate his needs and wants. This has made a positive change to how he is seen and interacted with in his orphanage.

The NEW ward aerobics at the Mercy Ships Fistula Hospital is also going well. It’s a point in the week were you can guarantee big smiles and lots of giggles. Not sure if that’s because they think I’m a little crazy, or if it’s actually because they are enjoying themselves! It’s been a great way to get these girls and women moving and breathing deeply both pre and post op.

My Crio lessons have started. So a NEW language to master! Never liked learning languages, but I already have a good grasp of the basics, now for some fine tuning!!

And the last NEW is…. my NEW car! As I write paperwork is finally going through and by the weekend even I might have ‘Bertie’ my new Landrover Defender. I’ve been learning how to drive off-road on some beautiful mountains with the current owner and look forward to getting out and about more easily in the near future.

There have been parts of this month when I have felt totally exhausted. Now the safety and security is much improved in the country, I have been able to get into a bit more of a routine, and do more of the work I want to. I’m encouraged at how it is all coming together.

I am even more blessed in the way people have supported me in this work.
I would not be able to do what I’m doing without you, so thanks for playing your part - whether an encouraging email, prayers, financial support or a text or phone call. Great is your faithfulness, even greater is God’s faithfulness and my hope lies in Him, for myself and for these precious treasures I’m finding.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24

So please continue to pray for:
~ Words to support some of these desperate families
~ HEALTH - Praise God for such good health so far
~ Quick knowledge of the Crio language to help me communicate
~ Wisdom as I think further about employing a lady who desperately needs work in order to not have to give her baby away. Very complicated family situation. Her name is Williet, baby is Marvin
~ For more patients - dare I say it!

So THANK YOU and GOOD BYE to you all, I pray for you often.