|Patrick Maina lecturing students on HIV & AIDS|
Self Help Group Training
|CBM's Brenda Halk came to|
help our Self-Help-Groups
(SHGs) with some good
|Beth with Brenda Halk.|
|SHG Small Business training class with Brenda Halk|
|Participants in SHG training.|
|Certificate in Integral Mission (CIM)|
Wayne here is teaching a group of
pastors from Kenya's North-East
Province who have gathered to
study in the CIM program.
|CIM Class, Nov. 2014|
Kamp Tumaini Preparation
|This class of girls attend the ACC&S Gituru school, the site of Kamp Tumaini this August. They are waving hello to all their Canadian brothers and sisters.|
|One of the dorm rooms that will be used this August for Kamp Tumaini.|
|Visit from Sam & Cindy Chaise|
|A CBM, Kenya staff meeting...|
|Welcoming Ken and Wendy Derksen (and Stefan Cherry)|
|CBM's, Val Fenn visiting from Beautiful BC|
|Sam and the pigs (Warthogs)|
“Look out world, here I come!”
I just offered to blow bubbles for a toddler sitting on his mum’s lap, at a local café. I realized how strange this may have seemed to this young couple to have had a complete stranger sitting beside them in a restaurant pull bubbles out of her purse and offer to play with their child. And so I felt the urge to explain that I was not a strange lady, but that I carry bubbles with me because I visit an orphanage. They politely nodded as if to say…”and that explains it, how?” In fact, they were quite gracious about my offer, even though the bubbles ended up nowhere near their baby due to a very strong wind that caused the bubbles to blow directly into the other customers. I didn’t look to see the other customers’ reactions. I was too busy worrying about the toddlers’ parents’ reaction.
Yes, sometimes my impulsivity gets the better of me, and I end up embarrassing myself…and others. Those others, most often, being members of my own family. Fortunately Wayne and Michael had left before the bubble incident or I don’t know what they would have done. Michael already refers to me as “the crazy lady”. And he isn’t joking.
I think the workers at the orphanage/children’s home, wonder just how crazy I am too. Every time I visit, I come with a different toy, or idea for working with this one particular child. Here name is Mary (not really, but I think I can’t use her real name for some legal reasons) and she is about 15 months old. She hasn’t begun to walk yet, and the staff are worried that she may never walk. I too am concerned because she has, in my opinion, very low muscle tone. She has been to several doctors who all say there is “nothing physically wrong with her”, even though it seems obvious to most that she is quite weak, and slow to develop. I have asked if I could help by taking her to physiotherapy, but in order to do that, you need a doctor’s prescription, which she hasn’t been given. And so, the director has given me the go ahead to do exercises with her to work on her development.
This, of course, is right up my alley, because of my experience as a Public Health Nurse working with children and families back in Canada. Normally I would make a referral for a child like this to the Infant Development Program to help a child learn to walk. But now I have a chance to develop my own skills in this particular area.
And so I have been teaching myself online, using various physio and development sites. And it has been fun! The first day I brought a box and a basin. I got Mary to sit on the box, with her feet on the floor and lean forward into the basin to reach for her toys. This worked for a while, but of course she got bored. The next day I asked the staff if I could use the bathtub as a “kiddie pool”, to do some physio type games using the buoyancy of the water to encourage her to try different movements. Plus splashing is fun, right! She hated it and cried the whole time. At the end of that day, the staff joked with me about what I would try tomorrow, hanging her from the hedges? Ha ha.
No, the next day I tried using a bouncy ball as a seat for her to sit on, with her feet touching the ground, and bounced her up and down while singing songs. Well, she loved it. She even tried to sing along and started doing the actions to “Pat-a-Cake”, and “All Around the Mulberry Bush” and “The Ants Go Marching”. And without realizing it, she was working on her core muscles, her legs, and her feet. By the end of my session with her she was pooped.
The next day, I thought…hey! She loves food. And she needs practice with her fine motor skills too. So I searched long and hard for cheerios, which were nowhere to be found. But I did find a version of rice crispies. And so I bought them. I was amazed by the stamina of this little girl when it came to obtaining yummy snacks.
I sat her on my leg, with me sitting on the floor and her feet touching the ground. I put one rice crispy in my hand and held it in front of her. She carefully picked it up with her finger and thumb and put it in her mouth….and loved it! So I lowered my hand slightly, and she did it again. And again. And again, until my hand was all the way to the floor and she was bending all the way to the ground and back, using her stomach muscles and legs to balance herself. Without realizing it, she did about 100 repetitions of a very difficult task, and was feeling very proud of herself! The staff, again, looked at me like I was a little crazy, but became intrigued by how determined she was, and how well she was doing bending over and getting back up.
Mary’s main caregiver is quite concerned about her inability to walk, because this will make it more difficult for her to be placed in a permanent home, making it more likely that she will spend her childhood in a care home. So, learning to walk is crucial for her future.
At first the workers, and myself, were holding Mary up by her arms, doing most of the work for her, while Mary would make walking motions with her legs. She didn’t, however, have any strength of her own, and would put no weight on her legs. And she was hating this game. It became clear to me that this was not the best way to foster walking. That was when I started doing research.
The exercises I am doing with her make complete sense to me. They are starting where she is at, and building her strength up little by little. They are helping her learn to use her legs and to engage her core muscles in small motions. Little by little her strength, balance and coordination are increasing. I am confident that she will eventually learn to stand, then to walk, then to run. But we can’t skip the middle steps. We have to help her develop the basic skills and build on them gradually. Holding her up and “walking” with her, doesn’t help and may even do harm. Because she will learn not to depend on her own strength but on the strength of others. She won’t gain the necessary skills or confidence in herself, but will simply rely on others to do the work for her.
And this was already starting to happen. No fault of her own, but I can see her tendency towards “helplessness“. The workers call her fearful. But I think she lacks confidence. In fact, in writing this, I am remembering that she is in the development stage of “autonomy versus self-doubt”. At this stage the goal is to foster the development of one’s independence and belief in oneself. The belief that “I can do it”. And if this doesn’t happen the child will feel inadequate, dependent, lack self-esteem, and doubt their own abilities.
And it is not too late for Mary. Yes, she is at a crucial junction, but I see her confidence growing. She is getting stronger. She gets excited when she successfully gets a rice crispy into her mouth, or is able to do the actions to songs. And she is developing that wonderful toddler attitude that we all know and love – the one that says “Mine!” and “No!” and “Me do!” – the one that says “Look out world, here I come!”.
Human beings are amazing creatures. God has made us to be independent and to assert ourselves in this world. After all, he gave us not only free will but the responsibility to look after His entire creation. Quite the responsibility! He wants us to become all that we can be! This, of course, is balanced with dependence on him – knowing our limitations as human beings. Like children, who need to develop independence within the knowledge that their parents are there to support them when they need it. And our independence is not for the sake of being selfish, thinking only of our own needs, but to be able to take care of others, and this planet! Our independence is a gift, to be used for the betterment of others, not just for ourselves. In the words of Spider Man’s dad, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
In talking to Mary’s caregiver, she shared with me that she, herself grew up in an orphanage for her entire childhood. And now, she wants to “give back” by working in an orphanage. In spite of her challenges in life, she still recognizes that she has a responsibility to care for others, not just herself. I find this amazing. She is a loving and strong woman, who cares for so many children every day, and then goes home to care for her own.
Will Mary walk? I think so. Will she grow up in a care home? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that no matter what, her life will be impacted by the people around her. By the care and love that she receives, whether from a parent or a worker. That her confidence in herself will be fostered by those around her. And that if she does grow up in a care home, that she can have a good life. That she can learn to be independent and to rely on God. And to be happy.
And me? All I can do is my small part. To take this opportunity to spend time with her and to love her and to encourage her, and trust that in some way, this will have had a positive impact in her life. That I will have been a part of her journey. And I have to trust God for the rest.
Mary is just one of the lives that we have intersected with here in Kenya. There are many others whose stories aren’t that much different, even though the others are much older. Because even at the age of 27 years – or 57, people need help that fosters independence, not dependence. It is a life-long struggle to maintain one’s belief in one’s self when faced with adversity. To continue to say “I can do it” even when the evidence seems to be to the contrary. And to remember that “I can’t do it alone.” I can do it with the help of others and the help of God. But I am a capable person. So I won’t give up. I won’t let discouragement get the best of me. I won’t lie down and die. I will keep pushing forward. I will keep bending down to pick up that rice crispy and I will become stronger. I will walk. And I will keep walking.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
|So... the big family news is that we have a new daughter-in-law-to-be!! Woohoo!! Welcome, Chandehl!|
But those who wait upon get fresh strength.