Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Today is our last night in Zambia. After breakfast we started loading up "Khaki Jackie" and some of our Zambian and American friends came to see us off. It was sort of bittersweet. Then we traveled to Lusaka to stay at the Protea! We Love this hotel, it is so swanky. BW gave us all some money to eat dinner on our own and we don't have to get up early. WE GET TO SLEEP IN! At approximately 3 pm Zambian time we will be boarding an airplane to head back to America.

This has been an amazing experience and one that I will think of forever. With that said, I am really excited about being home where there is reliable internet, consistently running hot water, and electricity that doesn't go off at 7 pm every night. USA here we come!


Friday, June 18, 2010

GA Olympics

Well, we just completed our last day of therapy at the Haven. There were bittersweet emotions flowing through our group today. We started off with finishing our Capstones (project in order to graduate) and therapy with babies of our choice. We then took a break for lunch and returned to the Haven to give each one a cake and say goodbye to our new friends, the Aunties, and the little munchkins. I felt at peace while I was with them. I went to Bennett, Nathan, Miller and Memory (she just got back from a heart surgery in South Africa) as my babies to hold. The were so content and I couldn't help but feel good about the work we had done. They have all come such a long ways with their language and feeding. Most of the babies are achieving the milestones appropriate for their age or coming closer everyday to being on track. They have all worked so hard but our time here would not be worth anything if we did not educate and get the Aunties involved in what we were trying to do.

Once they warmed up to us and saw that we were helping their babies, they had no problems wanting to know what they could do to help! This was very exciting news. The language group made lesson plans that were easy for the Aunties to follow including, activities, songs, and manipulatives. The Dysphagia group, made paper flowers and suns that have developmental milestones on the petals/rays that the aunties can cross off as each child achieves their own goals. We also made signs for the bottles that gave advice for how to know which bottles are appropriate to give to the babies and which are not (flow of milk coming out of the nipple needs to be slow for babies) and signs at the changing tables also gave examples of how to stimulate language with their children. They loved the things we gave them and they all expressed that this would help them very much. The aunties were already doing a great job, but now they can be purposeful with their everyday routines and help their babies thrive. Most of us walked back from the Haven in order to think and have our alone time before we gathered together again. Knowing that today was going to be an emotional day for everyone, Rachel and I decided to bust out our plans for...the first ever ZAMBIAN GA OLYMPICS :) haha! We had been keeping this a secret for about 2 weeks and everyone was in good spirits once they were completed...SUCCESS!!
Events went down in this order,
1) Longest Leg Hair Competition (I Won of course!) haha, Thanks Dad!
2) Sock Sliding (Rachel won)
3) Chitenge Wrap (Sarah Hendrix won)
4) 40 Sec Clothes Pile On (Kaylee & Lacey won, this was a roommate event) 5) Unlock the Door Race (Sarah Hendrix won)
6) Chug the Bottle (Lacey won)

Dr. Weaver made Caroline "grandama" and Marja honorary members of R.O.S.S. (Royal Order of the Silver Slipper) It is a great honor!!
The overall Bronze Medal went to Kaylee, Silver- Lacey, Gold- Sarah. We laughed a lot and everyone got involved to make it a great event and happy ending to a tough day. It's amazing how God can allow us to find joy on the saddest days. Thanks God!! We leave for Livingstone tomorrow to have High Tea at the Royal Livingstone, Safari in Botswana, Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi, shop and shave our legs!! Please pray for our safe journeys.

Saying goodbye

This week was my last week of therapy with the children and babies at the Havens. It was difficult leaving them today knowing that I would not be seeing them again. All of the children were so cutely dressed and just getting up from their naps. I made my way into all of the Havens (Havens 1, 2, and 3) playing one last time with the kiddos and then saying my goodbyes. All of the children have made so much progress and are doing so well. I have noticed that the children are now stringing sounds and words together while others are starting to talk. Some of the babies are starting to roll over, suck a pacifier, sit up, have tummy time while keeping their head up, and are able to smile. Other babies have met a lot of these goals and are starting to babble more often. Teagen, one of the kiddos is starting to crawl while Megan is sucking on a pacifier. Before Megan would not put anything in her mouth and Teagen did not interact and/or smile during play. Sidney is starting to sit up independently while Shelby, her sister is starting to babble. All the children and babies are doing fabulous! Today Katherine, Kaylee, Caroline and I made props/materials for the aunties when providing care to the children and babies. We cut out flowers for the girls and stars for the boys. On each flower petal and/or star triangle there are developmental milestones that the aunties get to color each time a child/baby meets a new goal. For feeding time, I and the other girls cut out bottles listing how to feed each child. The paper cut-out bottles were placed in each room near the changing table. It was nice to have an education session for the aunties so when we leave the aunties will continue to help the children with language enrichment and feeding. What a wonderful, but sad time. We all said our last hellos and goodbyes. The last person I got to visit with was Gwembe. He has made incredible progress as well. He is now starting to use more English with Tonga. He is following 2-step directions, answering yes/no questions, and is naming colors. Elvis, his one on one helper said that he would continue to work with Gwembe. Before saying my final goodbye I was able to give Gwembe some tennis shoes, pens, school supplies and I gave Elvis a hat. Gwembe was all smiles when I had him try on the shoes. I asked him to name what they are (shoes) and their color. With some prompts/cues he was able to answer my questions. I took lots of pictures and hope to hear from Roy and Elvis in the future on how Gwembe is dong. I hope that Gwembe will have more opportunities to go to school and find a job where he can feel good about himself and his strengths. Everyone has strengths we just need to find them and focus on the positives!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Legit Situation

This morning we had to go into Kalomo to get our visas renewed... Thank you B Weave!!

We got to the Haven just a little later than usual, so our Haven 2 kids were already drinking their tea/juice/milk. As soon as we showed up, Bright, Emma, and Weston ran over to me holding up their drinks so I would take the lids off. When I took their bottles, they ran over to the bench and sat nicely waiting to get their drink back. They are learning so well! While we were doing our lesson, Clintus (one of the aunties) came out to watch. I asked her if she would like to sing some songs and she said, "No... tomorrow." Well, tomorrow we are not doing our normal therapy so I had to explain that to her. Then she said, "Ok, after tomorrow." When I had to tell her that tomorrow is our last day, she got teary eyed and said, "No! So sad, so sad!" That was the first time it really hit me how sad saying goodbye tomorrow is going to be... Oh, goodness. Not thinking about that yet!! At Haven 1, the aunties are all very sweet and love talking to us... which I think is because Sarah has basically become and honorary auntie while we've been here. When I asked Pauline if we could take a "snap" she said only if we take two and I leave one with her! She is just precious!

Pauline and me!

This afternoon, we spent our time on the front porch at Haven 1 writing up a very detailed schedule of what we've been doing, a list of all the children at the Haven, and organizing our supplies that we're leaving here. We ended up getting it done pretty quickly so we had some time to just hold some babies. A lot of them are sick right now so they weren't as lively as normal. I picked up Hunter because he was crying in his bed. I ended up holding him for about an hour! He is so sweet and so tiny! Marja joined us back from her day at school and we worked on recommendations for next year. I used a chitenge to tie Hunter to me so I'd have some free hands. He just loved it! I think it was really good for him to just be held close. I didn't want to have to put him back in his bed when I left!
Sweet, sweet Hunter

Tonight we're just hanging out... the power went out again for about an hour but it just came back! We always end up finding ways to entertain ourselves, so it's all good. Oh, but we do have some sad news... probably not going to get to go on the elephant ride. Every company we've contacted is already book. Oh well! We are going to have plenty to do in Livingstone as it is!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Days....

Today was our last full day of therapy at the Havens. Rach, Lace and I are back on language duty this week and it is going really well. The kids have finally fallen in to routine, and are really responding to the language stimulation. It is nice to see these kids coming out of their shells and talking more. They are bright little ones with lots of potential.

We have been trying to get the “Aunties” more involved with therapy so that they can continue after we leave. It has been slow going on that front but we have managed to form so close relationships with some of these ladies. I am confident they will do some FANTASTIC language lessons after we leave.

Today is the wonderful Caroline Martin’s 30th Birthday. We are so lucky to have her here on this trip and we are luckier to have the opportunity to share in her first days as a 30 year old. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAROLINE!

We leave the mission in a week and the general feeling of the group is bittersweet. We have grown to love the babies here; each of us has claimed one of our own. We will be sad to leave them and I am certain I speak for everyone when I say that we wish we could take them with us. Home will be nice though. The land of reliable internet, hot showers, and few power outages.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A stroll through the African bush

This morning we took a short cut to the Haven (different from Ian’s “original” shortcut). Thanks to our guide Catherine, we made it to the Haven 10 minutes faster. It may have been quicker to take the short cut but I think I will be sticking to the main road for the rest of the week. This trail led through tall grass (taller than me!) in the middle of nowhere.

This picture doesn't do it justice! This was the nice part of the trail before we actually got into the bush where I was wishing for a machete. I had thoughts like: “What would we do if one of us gets bit by a black mumba or attacked by a cheetah?” going through my mind. So thanks but no thanks to the short cut!
Once we arrived at the Haven, Catherine went to work on her CAPSTONE research while Lace and I played with the toddlers from Haven 2. Charlie recently had to go to the clinic because his eye was swollen shut, we believe it was a sty that had gotten infected. He is doing tons better and today I saw him with a book, so I asked to see what he was reading. Well this is what I found…
A book cover with nothing inside. Nice.

When the Khaki Jackie arrived at the Haven with the rest of the people, our group had to do some readjusting because all of our babies at Haven 3 were at the clinic getting TB tested. Instead, we went to Haven 1 first for feeding group and no one was the “lead”, rather it was just more practice for each clinician. We have been noticing our little Lushomo losing weight lately, and today we noticed he was breathing quickly and seemed to take a lot of effort to drink his bottle. The haven nurse is supposed to check him out later today or tomorrow. Let’s keep Lush (pronounced: Loosh) in our prayers!
Caroline feeding little Lush

We headed over to Haven 3 whenever the babies arrived back from the clinic. When we got the group gathered together we noticed each one of the babies were wearing little shoes from their trip to the clinic, they were presh!

Amanda is sportin' her ruby red slippers and in the far left corner you will see Sid's pink kicks ;)

You could tell the babies were exhausted from their busy morning at the clinic. However, we pushed forward with therapy. We started off with the Beckman exercises, then some group “tummy time”, and ended with feeding. Choolwe waved this morning and rolled over a couple of times (making some progress!). At the end of the morning session we decided to lay down with the kids and have “chill time”. Catherine had Sid propped up on her legs with Bennett sleeping on her chest. I had Sid’s twin, Shelby, propped up on my legs with a bottle and “princess” Amanda on my chest/face/stomach/EVERYWHERE!
Amanda and Shelby

When we returned this afternoon we were flying solo because poor Caroline was not feeling so hot. We started at Haven 3 with the babies outside on the porch for therapy. Then we ended the day at Haven 1 where Tegan crawled-ish today! Technically, it was more of a swimming/crawling motion but it got her to her destination (the pacifier).
Meet Nathan, he is not apart of our feeding/swallowing therapy group but he sleeps in the same room where we usually have the session so we often put him on the floor with us. Well today he was being a SUPERSTAR. He ate a baby cookie/biscuit and rolled over and over and over… He is also a little talker; constantly babbling and smiling!

After we got all of the kiddos oral motor exercises in, we moved to the table for feeding time. I do believe this is Darcie’s favorite time of day…
Except when feeding time is over. She is not a happy camper.

When we were cleaning up the table after feeding therapy and getting the babies all situated for play time. I noticed Shawn crawling underneath the table at a fast pace then his little precious self was clinging to my legs. Catherine says I spoil him…I beg to differ!

Love my little boy

Tomorrow we are set to do individual therapy sessions where we will see one infant at a time for 30 minutes. We will do the same type of activities we do in group feeding/swallowing therapy except make it more individualized for the infant’s needs. I have been looking forward to tomorrow’s schedule all week :) it should be fun!


Monday, June 14, 2010

10 more days!

This morning at Haven 2 we split the kiddos into two separate groups on opposite ends of the porch. This seemed to hold their attention a lot better and cut down on the behavioral issues. Since our resources are limited here in Zambia and our container of materials has not arrived yet....I incorporated a "slap it" game into therapy where the kids had to differentiate between certain animals, slap that animal with a fly swatter (compliments of Mrs. Hamby), say the name of the animal, and practice making the animal's sound. They loved it. Rachel also did an awesome activity using sidewalk chalk to draw trails on the porch which led to different beanie baby animals that were hidden under baseball caps. Kind of like a Safari hunt. We are definitely having to pull out our creative sides without having any materials available! Tomorrow, Jaimie plans to have a "musical chairs" activity, using her Ihome and music to have the kids work on animals and their sounds as well. Super cute ideas! We hope to receive the container before we leave for Livingstone this week in order to organize the materials and have them ready for next year's group. So sad we didn't get them here in time! After leaving Haven 2, we headed to Haven 1, where I was the group leader for the day. I was in charge of leading all the songs and activities for the session. It is amazing to see all the changes from week one to week 4. Since I have been doing feeding therapy, I was shocked to join language therapy again and see all the changes the children have made within such a short period of time! :) There is much much more talking, imitating, and interacting in just a few short weeks. so exciting! I was also in charge of leading all the little ones at Haven 3 this morning. They had just finished feeding therapy (with Caroline, Kaylee, Meghann, and Catherine) so they were all really tired and ready for their afternoon nap. I think all my singing put most of them straight to sleep! haha. It was so cute! After lunch we headed back to Havens 1 and 3. I think the kids must have eaten sugar cane for lunch because they were bouncing off the walls! Talk about busy bees!

These three.... Nita, Ross, and Shawn (with poor little Jana crying on the side) were absolutely hysterical! They were all trying to sit in my lap at the same time and fighting over who got the best seat. Of course Nita, aka the trouble maker, ran the show and tried her hardest to push everyone else off my lap! She's something else!
Theres room for everyone Nita! :) haha.
Trying to keep them all in one crib for language therapy! ...aka best idea! :) haha.

We only have 10 more days left on our trip and then we will be home on the 25th! Still cant believe it! Pray that our last week here at the Haven continues to be successful and that we have a safe trip to Livingstone!

Goodnight! - Lacey