It’s not always rewarding. Friday was a particularly challenging day for me….Boxing Day for my British friends and family. I went to meet and measure a child who I knew needed a wheelchair in a nearby town. In the process I met his 24 year old sister who is very deformed, and a 14 year old girl with juvenile arthritis, in so much pain and without medication. I know you have all seen photos of children severely deformed, because they have received no early intervention, no services, perhaps a wheelchair that has added to their deformities. That’s what I saw today! It is heartbreaking. Sometimes I numb out, sometimes I cry, sometimes I reach out to my friends, family, and colleagues, and cry again. I feel overwhelmed. The physical therapist there has been trying to get medication for the girl with rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes she is in too much pain to receive PT.
In the afternoon I saw three children whom I have given specialised wheelchairs, but none of them brought their chair. One said it is easier to carry her than bring the chair on the rough roads and the bus. One child does not have enough head control and the chest strap cuts into his neck, and the other said his child is too hot in his chair and so he carrys him over his shoulder. They use the chairs in their home and for short journeys.
The challenges here are huge and I remind myself “I am doing the best I can”. I carry on with my to do list one step at a time, eagerly awaiting colleagues who will visit me at the end of January. I am so thankful to Sandy, Natasha, Kyla and Jenna who are coming in January, and Elaine, Jodi and Kirah who are looking at tickets to come for spring break. Thank you. I am also very thankful to those of you who can not come, but provide words of encouragement, via e mail messages, Facebook posts, skype conferencing, FaceTime calls, listening ears, financial donations, tips on how to support the children or make an adaptation, show interest and call me. It all helps! Muchas gracias.
And then after the tears and chats, I start finding my drive again to figure out how to make this a sustainable project for years to come, so that the future children in La Concha receive services from an early age and throughout their life. I will keep you posted as ideas evolve.
Meanwhile wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2015.