Work at the Centre has been intense to say the least. I arrive at about 8:30 in the morning and greet David and Angela, the local occupational therapists, but there is usually only time for a brief chat with them before the parents and children start coming in the door.
As they come up the ramp to the Centre I quickly stand from my child-size chair and greet each parent and child with a hand shake, and a "Habari asubuhi!" (Good morning!). Greetings in Kenya, I am told, are very important and I try my best to make a good impression. All are very polite, but some are so surprised to see a mzungu (white person) that appears to speak their local language, that they often can't help but laugh. Many times I also am surprised, but more so by their reaction than I being white, that I will go back and sit down in my chair without asking for the name of their child.
Bridgit has Down's Syndrome and is playing with a doll to help her socialization.
There are now over 100 children that come to the Centre and have disabilities as a result of birth defects, diseases, and also nerve damage due to improperly given injections. Some of the disabilities that are brought into the Center are club foot, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, epilepsy, spina bifida, mental retardation, hydrocephalus, microcephalus, and foot drop. Their are also some children that receive transportation to and from the hospital for surgery to correct cleft lip, cleft palette, and various eye conditions.
Samson has spina bifida and kicks a soccer ball for play therapy.
The Centre provides both occupational and play therapy. Occupational Therapy is done by the therapists, David and Angela, and can be a massage or exercise that increases brain and nerve stimulation. The children may also have plaster casts or plastic braces made for their feet and legs to ensure that they will grow straight. The last part of occupational therapy is always a swing in the "hammock" or tire swing to increase balance and stimulate the senses.
Aizan has a speech disability and uses the hammock "tire swing" to stimulate his senses.
Benjamin is hemiplegic and uses the soccer ball to increase muscle control.
The children at the Centre can have many varying disabilities. Many can be very active and will run, scream, shout, cry, or laugh. However, there are also many that display very little movement beyond the blinking of their eyes. These children can show very little or no emotion at all. It can be challenging to work with either extreme, but many times, in one day, I will work with both children that are hyper-active and will not sit still and also children that can barely move and are confined to a child seat. Some days can really be a rollercoaster!