Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dear ~Enable the Children~ Supporters,

It's been a while since I've updated you in whats been going on.... so now is my chance.

Firstly - you'll see below is Sarah's Newsletter.
Sarah is our on the ground British Occupational Therapist. She is doing an amazing job in Sierra Leone at the grass roots level of working with our Sierra Leonean staff to keep the project rolling.

Read some encouraging and challenging stories of life out there.

Secondly - update from the UK office (- my home and many other parts of my mind and life!)
~ Amazingly we now have enough money to buy a 'new to us' 4x4 car. People have been incredibly generous at helping us get the word of our need out there and to fund-raise. We have had enough donations for not only buying the car, but also shipping it out too, whilst maintaining the provision of the on-going day to day costs. Thank you all for your generousity - you know who you are.

~ It has been a HUGE job weighing up the tangled dilemmas of buying in Freetown vs buying in UK and shipping. I think (although we're still keeping our eyes open) we've decided on buying in the UK as we can get much more for our money and we can check the engine and mechanics with an excellently qualified engineer (thanks Dan!). HOWEVER - this does mean trying to navigate the complex and time consuming rigmorals of the Sierra Leone ports and tax systems. We think we are entitled to a duty free import, but re-registering our project with the Minsitry of Social Welfare this year has also taken some unexpected demands (both financially and paperwork). We'll get there in the end and are not worried about the registration as we know it will happen in their (african) timing, but we don't want to be delayed in getting the new car out while we wait for the Waiver of Duty. I have also learnt much about shipping to Africa, if anyone ever needs to know, and I've been in touch with some very helpful people!
Watch this space for what happens next!

~ There have been many developments in SL that we've been working on too.
~ Our new Rehab Assistant, Ambrose George, is had an excellent start with us and Sarah is focusing much time on getting him up to scratch.

~ Abu, our longest standing staff member is leading Ambrose through the communities as he also keeps his head down, focussed on the children we work with and encouraging their progress.

~ The rent on our office space in Freetown will be coming to an end next March and we are currently investigating relocating to a space where Abu might live and caretake the equipment and property. This is another huge step for us in empowering our local staff.

~ There is a possibility of taking on yet another Rehab Assistant later in the year, who has been working with MercyShips for the past year. There is plenty of work for us all, it's just more a case of how many staff we can manage to oversee, support and pay.

~ We have not finalised a new permanent driver for the project yet, but the SL team are using a few different people as they see how that turns out.

~ Katy, the US Physical Therapist who I will have mentioned to some of you, is now living with her husband in Freetown and is currently working out how she will split her time between the government run Children's hospital and our own project. We hope she will pick up some of a supervisory role and become a good clinical advisor of the project as sadly Sarah will coming to the end of her time in SL later next year.

~ We've decided that the demands of me working fulltime (as a physio here in the UK) as well as trying to oversee the complexities of the above for ~ETC~ has frankly been too much. Rob and I have agreed that I'm going to give up a day a week to keep the ~ETC~ stuff going, and believe me it is for his gain as much as mine!!

Every step along the way I feel we are blind to what is coming next. All I can do is try to make wise decisions for now and trust in God for where we are heading.

For as long as God continues to provide the people, the love, the finances and the passion, we will carry on strong.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Keep praying and being hopeful for the work are are striving to do.

Vez and Rob

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sarah's Newsletter: Freetown Sept 2011 to present day

The final Frontier....(ok, slight exagguration, maybe more accurate to title this “The final Year”)

Greetings from Sierra Leone! I'm now 2 months into my final chunk of time in Freetown. It's good to be back here after a restful, restorative time in the UK for the summer (or rainy season as it's known here: Sierra Leone saw non-stop heavy rain throughout the UK summer!)

Here is just a little up-date on some things going on here...

Visits to children:
It's been fab to see the improvement many of our children made while I was away (the local staff bravely carried on therapy sessions in spite of the crazy rain).

One of our children who made significant improvements is Fausatu, a 3 ½ year old girl. She has cerebral palsy that mostly affects the strength and control in her legs and the use of her right hand.
When we saw her for the 1st time in May she could only stand up for short periods of time and was crawling to get around. We taught Fausatu's family exercises to do, and they have worked so hard with her in between our visits. She is now walking, although a little unsteadily, and able to kick a ball around her garden.
Last visit she was starting to use both hands together for activities like threading and crayoning.

Sad news: Sadly as always a few of our disabled children passed away during the rainy seasons. They're particularly vulnerable to illnesses during the rains due to a combination of their condition and the poor housing.

Staff update:

Our new Rehab Assistant, called Ambrose, (not George as I originally thought) is a great addition to the team. He is enthusiastic and commited. He still has a lot to learn and much of the remainder of my time here will involve investing in teaching him therapy skills as well as more basic administration skills.

Drivers – Our driver Abdul has moved onto another outside of Freetown. We have not yet appointed a new one, but have had 2 different drivers come as needed to work.

The Landrover: Unfortunately the Landrover keeps breaking down (3 times since I've been back) and is always tricky and expensive to have fixed due to limited access to car parts and skilled mechanics...but even in this God has been amazing to us as it only ever seems to break down at the end of the working day and I have never yet been left broken down and stranded. Our founder Vez is looking into buying a more reliable car in the UK and shipping it out, but it may take a little while to get here.

Upcoming Family visit: I'm very excited that both my brother and sister are coming to visit (within the next week!).
My sister, Esther, is a speech therapist, so is kindly going to do some visits to the children with the most significant problems with swallowing/choking and with communicating as well as doing some training for our team.

Please pray....

My time here only serves to increase my belief that many breakthroughs only happen through prayer. Please continue to remember us, especially with regards to:

• Finding a new car, the shipping process (especially getting out of the port without paying bribes) & for the Landrover to last til it arrives.

• Ambrose to continue learn skills and to stay working with Enable the Children after he completes his year trainee post. It'd be amazing to have another trained up worker in the team.