Let's raise a cup of tea to that! Do you ever feel like time goes by quickly but when you think back it seems like ages ago? That is how I feel about the last while! Anyway, let's dive into what has been happening in February! Make yourself some tea (or coffee if you really must), while I share some updates.
In all honesty, February was very overwhelming for me. With about 32 children being seen, 6 home visits being done, a child stimulation program, and computer lessons for staff happening weekly, with their accompanying planning and admin,
I felt like a puppy chasing it's own tail (one of my favourite things to watch!). I was working hard but I felt I wasn't getting anywhere. Thankfully, I found a personal rhythm and structure to the week. Now, I am finally starting to find great enjoyment in what I am doing and I look out for moments of success to celebrate. All of the children have been assessed and I have a plan to address what they need from OT. I have been sharing some photos of what is happening in therapy on my social media. Feel free to take a look :)
I have two stories to share, one is less happy and another is more happy.
Story 1: Connie and myself were doing a home-visit to a 8 year old girl who has been attending therapy at Village of Hope previously. Let us call her Beauty. Her body is very weak, so she is using a wheelchair. However, mentally, she is typically developed. She no longer attends therapy at us because she is supposed to be attending a boarding school for children with disabilities. But, when we visited the school, she wasn't there. She had gone home. We asked the mother why Beauty was not attending school, and the mom explained that Beauty kept on crying because she was scared that the boarding school is simply ploy for her mother to abandon her. In fact, while we were visiting them and talking about the school, Beauty was quietly crying. My heart was breaking for this girl! I learn't afterwards that Beauty's stepfather had divorced her mother because he didn't want to be associated with a child with disabilities. I am sure that Beauty must have overheard these arguments and is afraid that she is a burden to her mom. There is no happy ending (yet) to this story, but I am burdened by how urgently this girl needs to know that she is unconditionally loved and forever accepted by her Creator. Also, work needs to be done to influence societies perception and acceptance of people with disabilities. If you have any ideas of what I can do, please to chat to me!
Story 2: On our Wednesday group for children in the community with disabilities, I do a short education with the mothers on an small aspect of caring for a child with disabilities. I was very unsure of how effective any of this was. One day there was a mother who is new to our program. She was copying some of the other mothers and positioning her son on his stomach, on a wedge (a triangle sponge), to exercise his neck and back muscles. She wasn't doing it entirely correctly, but because she was still new, so I decided to ignore it for that day. I didn't want her to feel incompetent and see me as constantly critiquing her. However, a mother next to her saw what she was doing, and started gently correcting her. Mother to mother (as opposed to therapist to mother) the help was fantastic! About three weeks earlier I had given education on how to correctly position children when they are lying on their stomachs to make sure that the exercise is helpful to the child's body. The information I gave seems to have been effective. This was such a bright moment for me, because one of my goals is to not be needed (I won't be here forever). The boy was positioned correctly and the mother was educated WITHOUT my input.
All in all therapy is going great. An exciting development is that I might be able to go visit another town, Shangombo, where there is another Hope church. I will go to provide education for and support those mothers who have children with disabilities! I am very excited.
In other news:
We have established that this is essential to any update. It has still been raining almost every day. Over weekends the rain has a tendency to start as soon as I hang my sheets out on the line to dry (Hello Mr Murphy). If I have to guess, I would say that of all the days that I have been here, only five days have been rain-free. Here is the view over the flood-plein from my office. The second picture is zoomed in (click on the arrows to scroll). Look at all that water!
I am careful to speak prematurely, but after having gone through 6 bottels of insect spray (yes, SIX), a half a bottle of bleach and two full Saturdays of deep cleaning, I think I have won the battle against the cockroaches. Here is a picture of one of the giant cockroaches that I was battling. The clothing peg is for a size reference. I used to find about two of these giants in the house everyday. So far, this week, I haven't seen one of these cockroaches in the house (victory dance!)
I also made the mistake of 'Googling' cockroaches. I might be slightly traumatised. They carry diseases and can get into your food. Did you know that they can eat almost anything, including, the hair or toenails of humans while they are sleeping? So yes, my motivation to live in a cockroach-free house is very high.
Although it may seem as if debugging my house is my new hobby, my actual new hobby is bird watching. I am not a great bird watcher, because I am too impatient. However, all of the people that I have met who know a thing or two about birding are really nice people. In a backwards attempt to become a nicer person I have taken up bird-watching. The goal is to see one new bird every week. I am aware that this is not how bird-watching works.
The birds that I have seen (and more importantly identified) up until now include African paradise flycatchers, white-browed robin chats, a grey headed kingfisher, a cape turtle dove (nothing to get excited about), and a pied crow. I am no good at photography so here are pictures from the internet of all of them.
Drawing back to the picture of a dog chasing it's tail, for the first two thirds of the month I was feeling very ineffective, that I wasn't doing enough. Although hard to admit, deep inside of me I was sure that if there was someone else, someone more spiritually mature, more organised, better at learning languages, more spontaneous, more outgoing they would be doing a better job than me (ever heard of imposter syndrome?). My taught mind-set in these times is to fake it till you make it. Problem is that you can fake it with other people but never with God and never with yourself. As I was working through this God's spirit taught me two things. One: In the way that I have been put together, I can't make a difference in a community or in people's lives until I am apart of the community or a person's life. My focus should be less on doing and more on connection. Two: Feeling like you are in a situation, and doing things that you couldn't do with your own skill set is all part of the Christian journey. In Mathew 14, Mathew writes of the time that Peter was walking on water. Jesus called him to walk on the water. It was only when he looked around him at the waves and the wind that he started questioning how HE could be doing what he was doing in the situation that he was in and then he started to drown. If he kept his focus on Jesus who had called him, he would have been fine. When Jesus pulled him out of the water he asked, "Why did you doubt?" So I learn't that the strategy for not drowning in overwhelming situations is remembering that you are called and to take your focus off the situation and put it on Jesus.
Since learning these things I have found settling and connecting much easier and I am filled with deep, deep joy instead of concern over if I am doing enough.
Thank you to everyone who is praying with me and for me. I definitely feel the support and I have definitely been experiencing God's prompts and cautioning as I interact with people and make plans. He is truly faithful! Please continue to pray and specifically with regards to things happening in Project Zambia and in Hope church Mongu you can pray for:
A shift in the hearts of the community that people with disabilities will be seen as and accepted as part of their society.
It is almost time for the short term teams to start coming. Last year there were about 20 hosted here. Please pray for wisdom as preparations and planning is being done. Pray also that that people who are supposed to come will be able to come.
Provision especially for the following:·
- The Hope school specifically only accepts vulnerable children and thereby do nit charge school fees. The children are dependent on people sponsoring their tuition. Currently there are 250 children who require a monthly sponsorship. Please pray for provision for these children. You can find more information here.
- The church is still raising funds for a kids church building to accommodate the growing kids church of over 100 children. If you feel inclined the link to donate is here.
A special thank you to the people who have been sending me messages and voice notes. They are to my heart what hot-chocolate is to winter. Also, Let me know if you see any spelling errors or typo's (you might win a mystery prize!). Until next time!
The cat who is trying to adopt me says hi...