I hope you are all well and enjoying the Spring!
The last month and a half here in Freetown has been lots of fun. The main event has been our Beach Gathering on 24th April...this is an annual get together on the beach organised by Enable the Children, which all the children and their families we work with are invited to. For families and carers it's a fantastic opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to themselves and to support each other. For the children it's a chance to have fun playing in the sand and sea - this might be their only trip to the beach within the year.
The biggest highlights for me were the smiles on the children's faces and hearing some of
conversations between the mums particularly one lady when she discovered her child was
not the only one unable to walk at 2 years old.
The photos above show the children playing in the water, Abu playing in the sand with Zainab (a girl with cerebral palsy) and her sister and myself holding Ramatu (a 17 month old with hydrocephalus, poor eyesight and hearing).
You may also remember reading about Kadija, a little girl who acquired her neurological problems after being abducted. We have now done a follow up visit to deliver and fit the gaiters (leg splints) and a stranding frame, as photographed. We also reviewed her exercise program, which the carers have been doing brilliantly with since out initial visit.
· It has been fab to have my friend Becky Harris to visit for a month. She divided her time between Enable the Children and my housemate's organisation, called Word Made Flesh (working in one of the slum areas of Freetown). We also had a chance to get some very relaxing and entertaining beach visits in.
· City of Rest: We are starting to explore making paper beads with the ladies as an income generating project, as inspired by Sue Smith's project with ladies in Uganda. I have also been running an art group for anyone who wants to come. What I love about this group is that some of the most keen participants are individuals who aren't able to engage in a lucid conversation because of their state of mental health.
· Mercy Ships: Their birthing centre now is now officially opened. I continue to go there one day a week to assess children referred by the outpatient clinic and to make cards with the ladies.
· We now have a room for some office space to have meetings, training and store the equipment. I am very pleased that I will no longer have to share my room with boxes of toys, walking aids and many other random items.
I am very thankful to God for a fantastic month and for how he has brought all the things together for the work in a way I could never have done in my own strength.
Thank you for your continued prayers, and if you get a chance I would love if you could pray for:
· New work colleagues to join the team (both Sierra Leonian and professional expats) to increase our capacity to see the many children that are referred to us.
· Someone to live in my house while I'm away over the summer, as my housemate will also be away and it would be good to have someone in the house.
· We would like to start some group work after the summer to provide an ongoing type of support group for the families we work with. Please pray that we can get this from an "ideas" stage to this being a practical reality.