Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Princess just celebrated her 3rd birthday on 30 October, 2006. Rachel, her mother, had purchased a baby chicken a few months back and then raised and fattened it just for Princess’ birthday. I’ve known Princess and Rachel for almost 2 years - since the time when, within about a 1-month period, I came into contact with several mothers who had children with cerebral palsy. A group was organized for the mothers to come with their children, learn a little about cerebral palsy and then learn and practice some exercises and movements they could help their children perform. Following the first session together, it naturally developed into a support group. We finished the part I had prepared, and then the mothers started talking about their babies, comparing, discussing, and supporting. The group lasted about 1 ½ - 2 months – gradually fewer and fewer mothers were coming – someone’s child would be sick, another one’s child was in the hospital, another one came three hours early each time (or two days late), another child died – and gradually, the group just stopped meeting.

I still worked one on one with some of the mothers and children. Rachel and Princess always seemed to have a good relationship – they were both always smiling and always seemed happy. They joined me to the orthopedist from time to time. Then this past January, two occupational therapy students from Holland came here to work on their final project, which focused on children with cerebral palsy who live on the camp. They mostly did home-visits and consults, but they also succeeded in some group work, which is something I’ve found to be not so easy to do on the camp. They worked well with Rachel and Princess. A partially rolling walker was made for Princess to help support her in her efforts to begin walking upright. About three months ago, Princess, who can now walk, began pre-school. She’s so very proud of being able to wear her backpack as she goes to/from school.

Rachel and her family (she has two older children) live in a mud house on the camp. As the rainy season progressed, their house became more and more dangerous as the rear wall leaned further and further into the main (and only) room and as it eroded on the outside. Fortunately, with the help of different donations, we were able to rebuild the house.

One of the biggest donations came from Sackor. During the war he was tortured and sticks were jammed into his ears. He’s lost most of his hearing. I took him to the audiologist several months ago and when the doctor put hearing aids into Sackor’s ears (just to test it out while he explained the options), Sackor was shocked to learn we were not shouting at him, but just talking at a normal level. Once he got over that shock, his first question was, “you mean . . . at night . . . when I’m in bed with my wife . . . she won’t have to shout at me? We can have a private conversation??”

Unfortunately, Sackor is too old to receive assistance from the organization that normally helps to get some hearing aids for the students at the school for the deaf. So we had to figure out another way. He’s a hard worker – knows masonry, some carpentry, a little electrical stuff, roofing, etc. So he started to earn some money towards the hearing aid by supplying the labor for Dixon’s house after it’s roof caved in while Dixon was in the hospital. Then he continued by basically rebuilding Rachel and Princess’ house. He made the bricks and did all the labor himself. He never collected anything in exchange for the workmanship – he was working towards his hearing aids. Finally, there were enough donations for about half the cost – so we went to order the hearing aids, trusting that somehow the balance needed would be here when the hearing aids arrived. We moved ahead on faith, we ordered the hearing aids on faith, he provided all the labor on faith – and it worked out. He now can have private conversations with his wife - and Rachel, Princess and the other two children now have solid walls supporting the roof over their heads.


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