Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done;
and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to you in order;
if I would speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
So the year has started well with old patients progressing, and new patients still finding their way to us. I used to describe finding new children like finding treasure, it seems that this treasure chest is bottomless, and so we continue to do what we can for them.
We have spent much time liaising with and partnering with other organisations. It seems that we are having a role matching appropriate patients together with the people who are trying to help, whether that be people who are in country or visiting specialists from overseas. Being in SL a while now and knowing many patients, we are in a good position to do so facilitating success for everyone. For Jamestina above, we are hoping for some club foot surgery from a visiting orthopaedic surgeon. She is a fun and determined girl but several different problems with both her legs and her L hand. She had been told that she would not walk, however she is already doing so with support and we hope will continue to do well.
Then there is Hawanatu and Sheku from SOS, who both have had TB of the Spine in the past leaving them with bad hunch back postures and leg paralysis. We were able to facilitate their assessment by a team from USA called FOCUS who are able to do spinal stabilisation surgery on some of these cases in Ghana. X-rays and assessments have been completed, so we'll see what happens next.
We have been working much more closely with Handicap International (HI), the only other NGO offering rehabilitation services. They are in the process of advising and handing over to the government the Rehab Centre they set up. This is a risky journey as when they pull out altogether, the government will really have to continue to make rehab a priority for this country if it is to stay open. I have recently heard a statistic that 1 in 5 people in SL have some kind of disability. I hope this truth is not ignored.
Our working with HI has been to work together on difficult cases since they are my only place to refer now for Orthotics and Prosthetics after the sad closure of Mercy Ships New Steps programme. Hamza is one such case. His walking is affected by a shortened leg caused by a badly dislocated hip that he still weight bears on as it's his only option to keep mobile. He also has neurological problems causing tightness of his legs and poor balance, as well as other bony abnormalities. It's a wonder he is still walking, let alone with a smile. So we are liaising with HI and Orthotists in UK to find the best options to keep him on his feet, especially since where he lives (down the side of a steep mountain) would not be accessible by wheelchair even if we could get one!
Bertie, my sometimes not so trusty Landrover, has been the cause of many a frustration and the expenditure of big money (not good when the value of the Pound is crashing). This month it has been the gear box and clutch. I get cross at how much it keeps costing to buy parts, and how often things go wrong. But I learnt the hard way this week what it would mean not to have it..... back in the early days I was using public transport, and this week I have reverted back to that. Yesterday, we were working on the same side of town that I live, and we walked in total for 4 hours in the sun, and only saw 3 families!! Most of this was to find one family who we had not visited at home before, it turns out that we were waiting for each other on different bridges!! By the time we had met, it had taken walking for an hour up a dirt road, which would have taken maybe 15 mins in the car. So it is worth it to be paying the money to fix the car, I could not be as effective without it.
Over the Christmas time, I travelled with some Mercy Ships friends out to a village on the far east of Sierra Leone called Koindu. This village was severely attacked during the war times as it is on the Liberian border. I had been there 2 times previously with the New Steps team, and this visit we even found one man we had given a pair of crutches to back in 2005. They were still going strong and were being well looked after as in his words ”there would be no where else to get new ones if they did break”. We experienced much of village life from kids galore, playing with traditional games, seeing where they fetch water from a natural spring, picking greens to be cooked, washing clothes on stones by another bigger river and seeing schools in burnt out buildings. We were going primarily for a break but did end up getting involved in a very sick 12 year old with meningitis, who despite our efforts sadly died.
So to end this newsletter, I ask you again that if you pray,
please remember us,
# the families we work with and our treasured children
# our safety as we travel around
# Abu's learning and my teaching of him
# Bertie's health and the cost of it
# my sanity in the depths of often long, hot and frustrating days
# success in our working with other organisations
but most importantly
# for GOD's GLORY TO SHINE THROUGH US IN ALL WE DO.
With Love and thanks, Vez