Monday, 30 January 2012

Toliet seats, dressing herself, unsteady steps, new leg splints, imaginative speech games, House/office hunting, new car - ??duty free, still struggling. Welcome to Sierra Leone!

Freetown, Sierra Leone January 2012

Greetings from here in West Africa. I have included the above photos (to follow), taken by one of my friends, to show you some of the sights this Christmas period held for me....I may not have had snow or Christmas decorations in my house, but the beauty and randomness of this country is hard to beat. I have also compiled some news and stories from the last month to update you on the work here.

Enable the Children Team update:
Our most exciting news is that Katy, a Physio from the US, now volunteers with us 2 days a week. She is great at both therapy visits to children and imparting her skills to Abu and Ambrose. Katy is pictured left with Mohamed, a little boy who has weakness in one side of his body. He was unable even to crawl when we first started saw him in May last year due to weakness in his left arm and leg. A combination of our therapy visits and his family's dedication means he is now walking independently and is starting to grasp with his left hand.
Our new day contract driver, Mr Moilahai, has proved to be very capable and calm in the face of the crazy Freetown traffic. We are hoping to offer him a permanent contract in the near future.
Ambrose George is progressing well and continues to be a committed, enthusiastic team member. The photo (right) shows him blowing bubbles while Abu assists Susan (more about her below) to stand and reach for the bubbles, working on strengthening her legs and the coordination and movement of her weak left hand.
We are looking for a new office base, as the contract for our current space finishes at the
end of March. We hope to find somewhere with enough space to also accommodate staff as here living space is not always restful.

Other Children we visit:
Some of the visits that have particularly stood out to me include:
Susan, a 7 year old girl with hemiplegic cerebral palsy affecting the left side of her body. She needs help to move around and get on and off furniture. We have been practising getting on and off the wooden toilet seat from the floor, where she usually sits. Very excitingly when we positioned the seat next to the ledge (as in the picture) she could pull up on the ledge to get onto it by herself. We will continue to practice getting off the seat and adjusting her clothes to totally reduce her dependence on her mum for toileting.

Mary is a delightful little girl with a beautiful smile (pictured above). She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy affecting all her arms and legs, her balance and her coordination.
We have been practising dressing with her, she now needs only a little help to put her Tshirt on. Her family have tended to dress her up to now to save time but we are hoping with a little more practice she will be doing more of this herself.
In the photo to the right she is working with Ambrose (whose hand you can see) and Abu (to the left of the photo) – the gaiters on her legs help stretch the muscles in her legs while playing; she has started to outgrow them so we will be getting a local blacksmith and tailor to make a new pair.

My visit of the month was to a little boy named Sullay (pictured with me left). Like Susan and Mohamed he has hemiplegia, which affects the right side of his body. When we first started seeing him he would scream and cry any time we attempted to touch his right arm or leg to gently stretch them – I'm sure the neighbours thought we were trying to kill him from the noise he made! Back then he was shuffling around on his bottom on the dirt path
in front of his house to get around. Now, after 2 years of perseverance and therapy visits, he is starting to take unsteady steps (as in photo to the right) and allows us to stretch out his arm without complaining. A huge improvement that I would never have predicted when we first met him.

Family Visit:
It was lovely to have my brother and sister visit in went quickly but we packed in a good balance of work time and beach visits. My sister, Esther, kindly volunteered her speech therapy skills: I really enjoyed watching her interact with the children we visited using various imaginative speech games. The photo to the left is Esther during a treatment session with a little girl called Blessing, who has cerebral palsy primarily
affecting her balance, coordination and the clarity of her speech. Esther also spent a day training the Enable the Children team on communication, assessment tools and treatment ideas.

Prayer points:
Once again I cannot express enough how grateful I am for your prayers and what a difference they make! Please pray with us for:
~An Office space: For us to find somewhere suitable and safe that will accommodate staff and have a parking space for the car (within our budget constraints!).
~Car: We plan to ship a car from the UK (to replace our longserving, but not so reliable, Landrover). We have had difficulty getting tax free status as we are a Local voluntary Organisation not a NonGovernment Organisation. Please pray we are able to ship the car tax free as this is a significant sum of money.
~Transitions in the team and the handover during my last few months here, also for God's protection and blessing on Katy as she volunteers with us.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Personal Story from Ambrose George: Rehabilitation Assistant

My name is Ambrose George working as a Rehabilitation Assistant for Enable the Children as a Trainee from the month of July.

During this short period of working, I have found the work very enjoyable and good. It involves working with disabled children, developmentally delayed children as our guest teacher Jesus Christ did not discriminate himself from such people, he loved them and even healed them with his power.

I enjoy working with the children, to name a few examples:

Baby Hannah: A little girl around 8 years of age with cerebral palsy. She works really hard during our treatment. We have been working on her balance, she can stand with support but not by herself, and use games like stacking rings and bricks for co-ordination.

Eddie is a 4 year old boy with cerebral palsy affecting his legs (pictured left). Initially cried for the first sessions when we visited him, but now he smiles to greet us and works well. We do stretches with him and use games to work on the muscle strength of his legs, including games with bubbles and ball target games.

Allusine is a little boy with cerebral palsy who can walk but is very unsteady (pictured right with Abu). He is always happy to see us and works really hard. We are working on his trunk muscle control, balance and gait.

There is a gradual improvement with these children, as with many of the children we work with.

And lastly, though the work is good there are some challenges. The rainy season (July to September) is not easy and it is a time where children easily get sick.