Day seven brought us back to the Small House in Ndanai. The highlight of the morning drive? Purchasing sugarcane, avocados, and bananas en route without having to get out of the van – we just can’t get enough of the fresh fruit here in Kenya! You know you’re Canadian when…
Monday was day one of our two-day community clinic, where families from the nearby (and not so nearby) community could bring their children to get assessed by our joint teams of local and international therapists. A main initiative for the clinic was to link together families with children with a disability in the hope of them forming their own support networks. To facilitate this, and to further their knowledge on disability, the parents (the majority being mothers), were shown a couple of videos on disability around the world, stimulating a sharing of stories between the mothers.
If you allow me to skip to day 2 for a moment, I can happily report that a support network was formed, with different roles voted on, initiated by the mothers themselves. In a culture where children with disability are often hidden from their communities, this was an important step forward. Karen Leung, a physiotherapist from Alberta and our group leader, who has traveled to Kenya several teams, told us afterwards what still surprises her to this day: the parents’ realization that children with disabilities are not unique to Kenya. Veronica, a local occupational therapist working with our traveling team, believes this is an important moment for these mothers, as for many it is the first time they realize they’re not alone in raising a child with a disability.
As usual, there was plenty of background organization involved behind the scenes over the two days. Us therapists could not have done our work without the busy bees running the show! From organizing the families, to undertaking the intake portion, to providing the guests with diapers and clothing, it was definitely a team effort, and something we’re getting better and better at each day.
A memorable moment highlighting the cohesive work of our team came in the early afternoon of day one. George, a retiree from British Columbia, had the chance to watch a young boy with delayed walking ability, walk independently with the walker he had made just moments ago. You couldn’t wipe the smile from the boy’s face as he pushed the walker around the grass. And this is after he spent the entire assessment session crying! Following a reflection on the trip thus far, this moment was a highlight for several of us – you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces either! Emily’s (occupational therapist) additional highlight was hearing of the children’s improvements from the parents who had attended the clinic in previous years. It’s always nice to hear that we’re able to make a positive difference in these children’s lives.
Following the completion of the clinic, Joanne, our head physiotherapist at Ndanai, organized a celebration song and dance party. The children were happy to see Jessica back at centre stage playing her violin to start things off. Following our personal rendition of ‘O, Canada’ (we’re therapists for a reason!), the visiting mothers closed off the party by leading us in a traditional song and dance. There is good hope that the collaboration of the last couple days will carry through until the next clinic.
While all this excitement was going on in Ndanai, the education team that we have been traveling with since day one was out visiting schools in the region. Their purpose was to review the situation at schools that A Better World Canada is currently helping, and to visit sites of potential new partnerships. In terms of the latter, a school of 800 students was one such site. One indication of the need at the school were the dirt floors in 7 of the classrooms. Stay tuned to learn about new school projects that ABW is adding to their list.