Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Hi! My apologies, that this is so late. I have actually typed this out a week ago, but I haven't been able to post this update until now. Anyhow! Did you know that autumn officially starts on the 20th of March? That means that we have a little bit more than one month left of glorious summer. What are summer things that you intend to enjoy before it is over?
What is a good update if it doesn't include an update on the weather? I have been fortunate in my timing of coming to Zambia. I expected I was going to have major struggles with the heat. However, since I have arrived, it has rained literally every single day. It is helping so much in keeping the heat at bay!
Last week was my first week of officially working! I can now give a much clearer description of what work looks like for me. Here are some pictures of where I work. Therapy moved to this area at the beginning of the year. The building has more rooms than the pictures show, I just photographed the rooms relevant to myself and therapy. When you walk in the building, you walk into the room on the second picture. It is nice and spacious. Big groups are seen here. The third picture is to the left and is the therapy room. Here we store our therapy equipment and see small groups. The fourth picture is of our office. It is situated across the therapy room to the right of the big open area (Click on the side of the image to scroll).
I am expected to be “at work” from 7:45 – 17:00 every day. The therapy program runs on a weekly schedule – this is rather different to the monthly schedule that I am used to. What immediately amazed me is that children are seen on a weekly basis. Having worked in the government sector in South Africa, this seemed almost impossible. I work with a lady named Connie. She does not have any formal training, however, she has a wealth of experience is working with disabled children
A part of the Village of Hope (consists of a school, homes, therapy and a feeding program) is children’s homes where 48 children in the care of the organisation. There are 6 homes. Each home has a mother who looks after 8 children in a house – the children live here, in the same, home until they turn 18. About 15 of these children are seen for therapy in groups of two or three on a Monday.
Tuesday is home visits to children with disabilities. I have always loved home visits and this was no different. We walked and use public transport to visit the homes. The purpose of these home visits are:
To provide context – where is the child and family living, how far do they live from a water pump and the market? How well –kept is the home?
To follow up on wheelchairs – last year many children were able to receive specialised wheelchairs (valued at about R10 000 each). We check to see that the devices are being used correctly and maintained with care.
Also, not all of the children with disabilities are able to travel the distance to come to us at Mutoya (the missions base) for therapy. With home visits we come to them!
Here are some pictures from the scenery during this home visit. You are able to see the types of houses that many people live in, the type of sand that makes up most of the ground here as well as the type of plant that gets used for fencing.
On Tuesday afternoon, we run a program called “Mom’s and Tots”. This is a general stimulation program run at the children’s homes for the house mothers and the children younger than twelve.
Wednesdays are set aside for children with disabilities in the community to come for therapy. The mothers of the children also receive a bible teaching (last week it was on God’s love for us), health education (e.g. how to store food to prevent diarrhoea) as well as education on caring for a child with disabilities (e.g. we spoke about the causes of disability).
Something that stood out for me was how much the mom’s participate in their child’s therapy. In my experience the mothers bring their child for therapy and then they passively participate in the session. However, here, the mothers come in, get the equipment needed for their child and start positioning them and engaging them. This SIGNIFICANTLY reduces the input a therapist needs to give to an individual child – which is why they can be seen weekly. As a therapist it will be good for me to reflect about how my interactions with mothers in my previous experience prevented this from happening.
Home visits again! Although we will still see children from therapy, these home visits are more aimed toward mothers who are part of the antenatal program. All mothers who are part of the antenatal program will receive a home visit at some point. At these (unannounced) home visits we observe if the house is a clean and hygienic environment for a baby, and also observe if the mom appears to have enough resources to take care of the child (for example if the house does not have any furniture or curtains, it is noted that the mother may need extra support).
On Friday they have an antenatal skills program. This is such beautifully brilliant program. Here the mothers (to-be) are taught skills (e.g. making a table cloth/ a carpet) along with a bible teaching (e.g the Holy Spirit) and health education related to pregnancy (e.g. family planning). The skills are taught with the purpose of the mothers starting micro-businesses to increase family income and in so doing, preventing malnutrition. It’s brilliant right? Here is a photos of the ladies who were there on Friday. I also added some photos that show some of the steps in making the table cloths.
On Friday afternoons I am teaching four ladies on staff how to use computers. The unwritten exchange is that they need to patiently teach me Lozi.
In other news
Some people might be quiet keen to see pictures of the children I am working with or of the homes that we visit. I am very hesitant to do this, especially of the children with disabilities. I realise that true informed consent is almost impossible to get as some of the people may not be familiar with the internet and therefore may not understand how open and potentially permanent the pictures are. I am thinking, sound boarding and praying on how to strike a balance between sharing and respecting privacy.
I am starting to develop a better sense of what some of the needs could be. I will make a section on my website in the coming month with a few items that I think will benefit the children. If you would like to donate or make a contribution to these items feel free to get in touch (Once I have created the wishlist).
I just spent my second Sunday at church – some people are curious about what church is like. I am enjoying it and I hope to get involved in Kids Church. There are so many children in Zambia! In fact the average age of the population is 17 years old . Church starts at 9:00 and ends at about 10:30. We start of by singing a number of Lozi songs and then one or two English songs. The rest of the sermon, including announcements and the sermon are given in English and then translated into Lozi. So there are always two people on the stage. We are currently looking at the life of David with the theme that God has it all planned. What is standing out to me is the idea that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Now that I have an idea of what the typical schedule looks like, I am seeking God’s wisdom on how therapy can be provided in a way that is most effective and efficient with regards to reaching more children that don’t have access to. Supporting families of children with disabilities is a lovely way to show God’s love. I have a couple of young ideas in my heart that I am testing the waters on and allowing them to mature.
The church has been raising funds for a kids church building for a couple of months. Currently the kids church (of over 100 children) is being held in a tent. However on Sunday the children had to join the adults because of the rain. Also, the tent is becoming too small which inhibits the growth of the kids church.
Provision for assistive and mobility devices – there are more children who could benefit from wheelchairs and paediatric rollators. These devices are pricey, yet I know that God’s heart is to bless these children and their families.
Please do let me know if you need prayer for anything, I promise I will pray. Again, thank you for your love, interest and support. The prayers and messages are all forming part of a quilt keeping my heart warm. I won’t lie, this thing called adjustment is a tough cookie. However through all the longing for a sense of familiarity, I am constantly filled with gratitude at God’s provision that I get to be here.
Also, if there is something that you want me to tell you about, let me know!