Sunday, October 21, 2007

St. Julie Programme - Workshops & Clinics

Ryan, Tim, and Joy sit at the registration table at the epilepsy clinic

Currently, there are about 60 children that come to the St. Julie Centre, but there are over 300 that are part of the St. Julie Programme. The St. Julie Programme includes children as well as adults that don’t always come to the Centre for regular therapy. While the Centre specializes in occupational therapy, transportation and other forms of assistance may be provided for those children and adults that need surgery, medication, or eye treatment at a hospital or clinic.

Sr. Judi, the founder of the SJC speaks at a parent meeting

Angela, an occupational therapist at the SJC, speaks about child deaths due to illness

In addition to occupational therapy, the St. Julie Programme also holds local epilepsy clinics, eye clinics, and parent meetings, or workshops. They are all held several times a year, usually on a Friday or Saturday, when there is no occupational or play therapy.

Stephen speaks about the treatment of epilepsy at the SJC

The epilepsy clinics are normally held at the St. Julie Centre. On those days, Stephen, an epilepsy specialist, and his staff come from the nearby town of Mumias to evaluate the clients and to prescribe the necessary medication. Typically, 60 to 80 children and adults attend the epilepsy clinics and receive treatment and medication.

Stephen explains how a child can develop epilepsy

The eye clinics are usually held in the St. Teresa Parish Hall. A team of specialists from an eye clinic in the town of Sabatia come to Malava to check people’s eyes and, through the St. Julie Programme, get the necessary treatment and even eye glasses. On April 29th, the Sabatia eye clinic evaluated over 500 children and adults from the surrounding villages and through donations given to the programme, over 100 received free treatment and eye glasses.

Over 500 children and adults line up during the Sabatia eye clinic

In many cases, it is difficult for the people in Malava, and other nearby villages, to travel the distance to the nearest available treatment centre or hospital, so both the epilepsy clinic and the eye clinic are set up to bring the treatment to the rural villages, where the people are.

Sr. Judi and Neto, a SJC volunteer demonstrate
a locally made toy (a wheel attached to a stick)

Parent Meetings and workshops, like the eye clinics, are also held at the St. Teresa Parish Hall. The main purpose of these meetings is to educate the parents and volunteers about disabilities, where they come from and how to treat them. Each parent meeting has a topic related to a specific disability and also includes modes of prevention and treatment. A speaker begins a talk and then opens it up for discussion among the group. The parent meetings are especially helpful because they are beginning to remove the stigma that is associated with disabilities in rural Kenya. While there are still many in the villages that hold on to traditional beliefs that disabilities are a result of witchcraft or curses, this is changing and many of the disabled are given hope for recovery as well as acceptance among the community.

The parents listen intently as Sr. Judi speaks about parent's responsibilities

One particularly heartbreaking occurrence, that illustrates the need for education in the villages, happened some time ago when another local clinic was offering free inoculations for diseases common to the area. As an incentive for the villagers to come and bring their children to the clinic, each was given a free mosquito net for the prevention of malaria. However, because the people didn’t have the proper education, some of the them brought their children to be inoculated again and again , in order to receive yet another mosquito net. After begin given the same vaccine over and over many of the children began to die as a result of ignorance.

A parent stands to ask a question during the discussion at the parent meeting

It is St. Julie Billiart, the founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, that we follow in the footsteps of who spoke of educating the people as “the greatest work on earth.”

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