Superkids Latin America

Superkids will be sending volunteers to Guatemala and Colombia beginning January 2010!! Founder, Janet Fink, just returned from a whirlwind trip to Cali, Bogota, and Medellin Colombia where she met with many orphanages directors to discuss the medical, social, and educational needs of school aged orphans. More info about Superkids Latin America coming soon!

Keely and Kelly 's Final Words

Well, I have no excuse for this over month long delay in wrapping up our blog! I am sorry for the time lapse, but thank all of you dedicated readers who are all still anxiously awaiting to hear about the last few weeks of our trip, which were undescribable. As we mentioned in our last blog post, we found ourselves with a LONG to do list and only a short time to complete it all. Instead of chronological order, we’ll go in subject order. It seems the easiest way tie up all the details.
Oh, the chairs! A labor of LOVE. Lots of love. We spent weeks on what seemed like the never ending project. The real charmer about these chairs, however, was the day when we went to pick up the wood, just a few days before we were scheduled to leave, which was supposed to have the holes drilled in order to screw the seats and backs of the chairs and footrests in. Little to our knowledge, we show up to the shop and boy do things look different! I didn’t even initially recognize where we were...I thought we pulled up to the wrong part of the street. Sure enough, correct area, but the store was gone. I don’t mean the store was emptied out...I mean the store was GONE. The walls and roof and floor of the store were gone, and in it’s place, the dirt ground with a square outline of what once was a woodshop that we were standing in a few days prior. We managed to speak with a kid, maybe 12 years old, that told us the story. Apparently, despite owning the shop and the area on which it was located, the owner had been removed by the government who was reclaiming this last for something else. According to one of our friends, it might only be a matter of time before all these small businesses were scooted out so the government could do something else with the land. Fortunately, the boy knew where we could find the new shop. He hopped in our contracted van and lead us to the new location, in a nice, but plan storefront located on the first floor of an apartment building. Because of the relocation, the owner didn’t have time to drill the holes for us. He promised they would be ready by tomorrow morning, a Sunday, of which they didn’t usually work. Sure enough, Sunday afternoon I picked up the wood with Yemamu, dressed in his Sunday best for church, which happened to be a suit that was given to him by an American friend for his school graduation. Luckily, the new shop wasn’t located far from our house, which made it easier. In the meantime, Keely was in the mercado, hoping to pick up the last few necessities to finish off the chairs. To our dismay, she called, reporting that the mercado was deserted (a sight we never thought we’d see!). Because it was a Sunday, all the stores were closed up. She managed to find an open air second hand sale where she was atleast able to purchase the much needed bolts, allowing us to get the wood bolted to the chair frames. That day was spent sanding furiously, wood dust filling the air and the clothes of those who were kind enough to help us (thank you Yemamu, Keely S. and Misfin!), using our tools to tighten the final joints and spray painting to make the chairs look a little nicer. Monday, our last day in Ethiopia (literally...we left that night) Keely and I split up to divide and conquer. She went back to the mercado and have a few final pieces of fabric sewn for the covers of our head and lateral supports for Elshaday’s chair and picked up the miscellaneous items we had run out of or just never knew we needed. I ran last minute errands around town, picking up folders and markers, getting copies made and pictures printed. Monday afternoon, later than we had hoped but in enough time to finish it all up, we contracted a public minibus taxi that we loaded our proud masterpieces in that swept us off to Kebebtsehay for the last time. Once arriving, the kids were SO helpful in transporting and assisting us with the fitting of the chairs. We brought each kiddo out, one by one...Elshaday, Baletta, Yordi. We cut back the foam of our cushions, set the footrest at the right height, and belted them in. As we stepped back to check out the final product, they turned out better than we could have ever anticipated. The kiddos sat up straight, proper pelvic position, supported trunk. Beautiful. We spent a few minutes teaching a few of the caregivers, as well as Yemamu, how to properly position and secure the kiddos in place. Elshaday’s chair was the most involved...requiring not only a lap seat belt, but a chest harness in addition to lateral and head supports. His chair was set at approximately an 85 or so degree angle of hip flexion to trunk position, but it was tilted backward to discourage his head and trunk from falling forward due to his low tone and inability to work against gravity. These chairs were more involved than we ever thought they could be, but we are so proud of the final product and hear that they have worked out really well for feeding and spending time out of their crib. I can’t wait until we can get back to Ethiopia and see them again.
Our white board. A project that was finished thanks to the dedication of those who stayed beyond Keely O. and I. Although the board was planned out on a piece of white board, Keely S. and Yemamu took care of ensuring the board was completed. On one side, it listed the daily scheduled that was created during the afternoon portion of our caregiver education program. Feeding, napping and showering times were all built in, in addition to our newly agreed upon times including outside play, out of crib time for the babies and inside play time. Another portion of the board was used for reminders. Reminders to hold feed the babies, change children’s positions in cribs, wash your hands after changing diapers...all the little things we’re hoping really sunk in after our training sessions. The final section of the white board was left blank...purposefully. A portion dedicated to notes. Notes for the caregivers to write to each other about who is sick, who needs medication, who hasn’t eaten...all the really important things that don’t seem to always get transmitted during caregiver shift changes because of all the normal commotion. Keely sent us a picture of the final product, hung and in place. We were so lucky to have people on the ground when we left who cared enough to really spend some time ensuring our work was finished and implemented. Again, thank you Keely S. and Yemamu.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to head out to the countryside, to Awasa, for two days. We experienced a side of Ethiopia we hadn’t seen in the previous seven weeks. The terrain changed during the drive from dry and desert/tundra-esque, to green and lush and beautiful. We saw the fields being plowed by hand, one countryside Ethiopian and one bull with a primitive handmade plow. It was amazing. We met a mother of three, who was pregnant with a fourth. Living in their modest thatch house, one of these boys, with only a shirt on, was shivering from the cold. I have never seen so many flies on one child...they surrounded his eyes, some even encroaching the eye itself. He never even flinched, while my first reaction still when a fly lands on me is to shoo it off, no matter how stubborn it seems. Keely put it well...this just demonstrated the enormous societal complexity that surrounds the rapidly increasing number of children in this nation. Awasa housed an amazing number of street children. As the largest city in Eastern Ethiopia (according to our friend Alex), many children whose parents pass away often walk into this city. Overall, this was an amazing trip that allowed us to experience the country in a different way than we had in Addis.
Sunday evening, the day before we left, we took a few hour hiatus from working on the chairs to surprise the older kiddos at Kebebtsehay with a movie night. We had this cleared with the director, Asenake, from a few days before, but we were just hoping and praying there would be electricity at the orphanage that night! If our seven weeks in Ethiopia taught us anything, it was to prepare for anything, as water and electricity outages cannot be predicted. Fortunately, lights were on and the kids were surprised!!! As soon as we stepped inside, we were greeted with surprised smiles and hugs. I took a minute to peek into the baby/toddler room and was welcomed with the usual "Kellllllyyyy, Kellllllyyyy, Kellllyyy" chants. Sounds that still bring a smile to my face and almost tears to my eyes. It was bath time and I didn’t want to cause too much commotion, so I slipped back out as quietly as one can once your name is being chanted by 8 or so beautiful little kiddos. It was such a nice time for us to see Kebebtsehay. We have never been there at night, and it just felt so comfortable with the relationships we had built to sit back in the evening and watch a movie. A few weeks prior, someone generously donated a tv and DVD player to the orphanage, so we had these surprise plans in our heads for some time. We picked up a few DVDs (some of which were specifically requested by the older boys!) which included Bolt, Madagascar 2 (not 1! they were very specific about this!) and Superman. We enjoyed Bolt, although having been purchased on the street (we didn’t know where else to get them besides the mercado, and our experience there was just as sketchy) we were a little wary of the quality of the "authentic" (we were assured it was authentic...hmmmm) DVD. Minus a few parts that required a little intervention of fast forwarding, rewinding, pulling out to clean and replaying in order to get past the skips, it went over pretty well. We were so lucky to have the chance to see these kids in the evening in their "home" environment. It was amazing to sit back and really take it all in.
Orthotic devices. These proved to be a bit of a challenge! After multiple trips to the orthotic and prosthetic clinic, different hospitals and doctors offices, we finally were able to get prescriptions we didn’t know we needed in order to have the foot orthoses made. Unfortunately (or fortunately, because we’re not sure he would have gotten the care he needed had we not already been at the government hospital), Elshaday came down with a high fever and was obviously ill while we were at the hospital. He was "admitted," which we thought would mean he would be going to the inpatient hospital facility in a hospital room, diagnosed with severe pneumonia. We were told he would be receiving a G tube, to which we rejoiced! Although Ethiopia does not perform G tube placements for permanent solutions, we were just excited he would be getting proper nourishment for at least a few days while he tried to recover from this bout of pneumonia since he has such difficultly sucking and swallowing, and we’re pretty sure most of his food ended up in his lungs (which is likely the cause of the pneumonia in the first place). The orphanage was so great at attending to him; they sent over a "mother" to stay with him during his entire hospital stay. It was sad to say goodbye; he was so clearly sick and we would have done anything to try and take some of his pain away. The next day, we went back to the hospital and to our surprise, Elshaday was in the same room we had initially left him in. He was being treated, we were told, with antibiotics. Unfortunately, no G tube. We were still hoping, though. The next few days passed, and Elshaday was brought back to Kebebtsehay while we were there. No signs that he ever received his G tube. He was seeming to feel better, though. The other two, Baletta and Yordi, received the prescriptions needed for braces and Keely was able to have them evaluated at the clinic and the appointment was set for when the braces would be made. The appointment was a few days ago, and we are anxiously awaiting to hear how it went.
We were able to get Addisa to her final neurologist appointment to interpret the CT scan results. As we has feared, according to Ethiopian medicine, the damage was done and there was nothing that could be done for her. The neurologist explained that since her skull sutures were already "closed" (not exactly closed, they had formed overtop of each other instead of forming together and fusing in a smooth manner), no procedures would be able to help her condition. He recommended physical therapy to try and optimize her ability. We talked to Alex who spends time at Kebebtsehay with Yordi each morning making sure he gets out of his crib about some things that would be good for her. We know Alex will take good care of her. He’s so concerned about their well being and so dedicated to making sure they are all taken care of. Keely put together a "PT kit" for him before we left to help him continue some of the things we were doing, too. There were things for him to do measurements, explanations of exercises, tools to fix the chairs if they broke...we left all sorts of stuff that hopefully he’ll be able to use!
Our last night was the most difficult we had...more difficult that we could have ever imagined. We had gotten to know these kids, the caregivers, our friends in Ethiopia. We built relationships and trust and genuinely love these people. There were LOTS of tears. Only a few of the little ones seemed to understand that something was changing with our goodbyes, but all of the older kids, who have seen people come and go so often in their lives, knew what it meant that we were leaving. The caregivers offered us dinner and a coffee ceremony on our final night, which was so thoughtful. We spent this quiet time with the caregivers, reflecting on our past seven weeks and what we would miss the most. They told us what they learned, and it was so encouraging to see they were incorporating our ideas into their routines. Once we finished up with dinner, we walked outside. Mind you, this Monday night there was no electricity and it was getting pretty late, so it was close to pitch black minus the two candles we had been using to see. As we opened the door, we could hear all the older kids sitting on the steps singing/saying, "We love you Keellly!" over and over again. This name, Keelllly, is what Keely and I were both called, a bit of a hybrid of our names together because the sound of Kee is a little difficult for them to make. It was so touching, and made the tears flow even more. We really, really LOVE these kids.
Well, I think I may have covered most of the main things pretty thoroughly! Needless to say, we got more and more busy as time went on, and although we were there seven weeks, we could still be just as busy seven months later. There is just so much need and so many different things we can do to help these kids who really need the love and support we can offer. There just aren’t words for me to describe our overall trip. It was amazing, life-changing, encouraging, saddening, full of laughter and love and tears and experiences. We hope we impacted those we interacted with, because we know they touched our lives forever. We love Ethiopia; the country, the people. It was so hard to leave, but we are hopeful it won’t be too long until we can return again. Again, thank YOU for all your support for Superkids and Gladney. We couldn’t have done it without you. Signing out, for now, but not forever.

Keely and Kelly Update
Boy, Have They Been Busy!
Hello Everyone!!!

So incredibly sorry about the ridiculously long hiatus in blog posts. We would like to officially blame it on the incredibly inconsistent power of late. For those of you who are not familiar with the inter-workings of Ethiopia, the city of Addis is prone to frequent power-outages. Finally, we have time to sit and write… and there is so much to tell!

There are two more adorable kiddos that we want to introduce you too. First is Addisa. She is (we think) about 6 months old. Her name, which we assisted in making, is Addisa Metesenot (which means “new wish”) She is a beautiful baby girl. She came to the orphanage about three and a half weeks ago. Upon her arrival, the caregivers brought her to our attention due to concerns they had with her health. We immediately noticed her frequent seizures and continued to be very concerned with her neurological condition due to overlapping suture closure in her skull. Kelly masterfully got her to relax and fall asleep on that first day. And we have learned since that she loves to be on her belly…it’s the only way she can catch some restful sleep.
The last week and a half, we have been very busy trying to determine the neurological ramifications of the abnormal suture closure. Thanks to the amazing support of Superkids, we were able to take her to the foremost pediatric neurologist in Addis, Dr Ayele. He referred us for
a CT scan. Kelly and our Ethiopian guide Yemamu took her to the CT scan on Friday. Little Addisa handled things pretty well all in all…but for Kelly it was a little nerve racking! We have grown so attached to this little girl. We have the results in hand and are awaiting our follow-up visit from the Doctor to learn about the potential options. For now, we are just going to continue to make her life more comfortable and help teach the caregivers to properly handle and feed her.

The second… Masquenaw aka Baletta. What an amazing spirit this little girl has!! Baletta is the kind of child that just immediately fills you with joy. When you say that her laugh is contagious…it really doesn’t do it justice. She sits in her crib, rocking back and fourth and randomly dies laughing!!! And we mean this is a full body shaking … sometimes she laughs so hard, it is silent and she is just sitting there jiggling! She particularly enjoys watching the two of us dance. She can sit up in her crib unsupported, but gets very little stimulation or even time out of bed. We have lots of ideas on improving her core strength and seeing what she can do.

Finally, a small correction…. Elshaday is actually a boy. Embarrassing as it may be to admit, gender is a VERY difficult thing to determine here in the orphanage. Pink it turns out… as well as every other color in the rainbow and ribbons and bows are actually gender neutral. A miscommunication (mistranslation) with a caregiver led us to believe he was a girl, until we observed a diaper change about two weeks ago. So sorry about that!

We spend a lot of time throughout the weeks working individually with these kids… but this week was a little different. And very exciting!! We completed our caregiver education program and it was a HUGE success. Over 35 caregivers, axillary staff members and government
employees attended the 8 hour training session. We performed the program on Tuesday and Wednesday so that all could be in attendance. The director of the orphanage, Asenake, was thrilled with the information covered and we were thrilled with the interest and sincerity with which everyone approached the program. We can’t wait to share all the videos and pictures of these amazing days with all of you!

The morning began with the didactic session. We lectured on motor and social development with an emphasis on age appropriate sensory stimulation, positioning during sleep and play, language development, sharing, feeding, hygiene/illness prevention, bone health, and body mechanics during lifting. We also did a great role play activity to teach behavior modification with an emphasis on positive reinforcement. So much laughter and lots of learning too. After a
delicious lunch and coffee ceremony (oh and of course a morning tea) we continued with our hands on learning session. In this session we brought several infants to the classroom and allowed the participants to practice swaddling, infant massage, positioning and play
techniques, and oral stimulation prior to feeding. Following the afternoon tea break, we finished up with a group conversation in which we encouraged caregivers to develop a consistent schedule that incorporated many of the recommendations including “out of crib time”,
frequent repositioning of infants, outside time and lots of play. They were amazing participants and we had a lot of discussion, brainstorming and problem solving to arrive at an agreement that we are all very proud of. Next, the caregivers were encouraged to list the key elements learned during the class and discussion of how they want to try and implement this into their day. We were so impressed by their dedicated responses. The plan now is to create a white-board
with recommendation reminders, schedule, and a place for caregivers and nurses to write notes to improve communication about children. Like we mentioned, an overwhelming success. We definitely want to thank our translator Bisrat and of course our backstage man Yemamu for
making everything run so seamlessly, it could not have been better!

And what was even more exciting were the two days following! We walked in to observe increased caregiver interaction with the kids. Lots of singing and talking. There were infants out of their crib on the floor mats in all different positions and several of them were given massages…. and toys!!! The toddlers were taken out to play in the morning according to the developed schedule (which we had NEVER seen them do prior to the education program). We saw lots of toys (which also means lots of tears….sharing is REALLY hard with all these new
exciting toys). But we were overall impressed with the attempts of the caregivers to address all these behaviors with several of the strategies we taught them in the program. We also saw improved positioning of feeding and oral stimulation for the children that have difficulty feeding. WE ARE SO PROUD!!!!!

Let’s see, the last big project. We are trying desperately to get ankle foot orthotics made for Elshaday, Baletta and Yordi. Our goal is to provide them with braces that will help prevent deformity and also allow weight bearing to improve the joint mobility, muscle extensibility and bone health. And hopefully…with time increased functional independence. The process is slow, but we are very hopeful that Monday we will finally have all the steps in place and be able to
visit the orthotist for our official assessment.

We can’t believe our time is almost through!! The time has really flown by. The “to do” list is exceptionally long including: finishingour supportive feeding chairs, creating infant positioning devices, making positioning pillows for the kids with disabilities to decrease deformity, continue to work with caregivers to implement new changes and create white board. Oh, and of course the big “movie night” we are planning for all the older kids the night before we leave… complete with popcorn and everything.

Everyday is an amazing experience. We thank all of you for your continued support throughout all of our projects. We couldn’t have done it without you! We are so blessed with this opportunity. We promise more pictures and videos when we get home. Until then….

Keely and Kelly Update

Hi everyone! Internet has been slow in Ethiopia and Keely and Kelly have been very busy! Today they are conducting a 2 day training for orphanage caregivers.

K & K have been busy working with disabled orphans. Several of these orphans have foot and leg deformities. K & K found a place that can make ankle/feet orthodics to help prevent further deformity and allow them to weight bear.

A new girl was recently brought to the orphanage. She has a skull deformity and seizures. K&K found a neurologist in Addis who will give her a work up and CT scan this week.

K&K have also been overseeing some jewelry making as part of Gladney's Brighter Futures Project. The teen orphans pictured above are making beautiful ribbon necklaces that will be for sale this fall. Proceeds from sales will go to life-skills training for teen orphaned girls. Most teen orphans around the world do not have the skills to live constructive, independent lives. The majority end up on the streets. If you are interested in supporting our Brighter Futures Project please visit our website and buy some bracelets!! They are very pretty and make a great gift!

More updates coming soon!

Read about Lauren and Lisa's work in China

Our First Day at the Jiamusi Children’s Home: May 25, 2009

We were so excited to get to meet the children! When we arrived we were welcomed by six of the sweetest preschoolers who could not have been more precious. They were eager to talk and play with us and I was touched by how quickly they trusted us enough to sit on our laps.

I was instantly struck by the selflessness of the caregivers – we had presented them with chocolates upon our arrival and they reserved all of them for the children. So after getting to know the children over a chocolate snack, they were in full play mode. At first we played together with toys but in no time at all they were happy to crawl into our laps and even dance with us.

The children were evenly split by gender – 3 boys and 3 girls. We learned that most of the children were living with slight intellectual or physical disabilities but they received high-quality care to address their needs. Children who had needed surgeries were given them at a young age and physical therapy specialists helped with motor skill development. Despite their different abilities they played well together and with us.

The children were fun-loving and also responsible. They were sure to always throw away their trash and rearrange their toys when finished. The older kids watched out for the smallest girl and held her hand to walk her to the bathroom. It was truly touching.

May 26, 2009

Today we were welcomed by eight beautiful babies! For the rest of our time we will rotate between working with the infants we met today and the preschoolers we met yesterday. The babies were also equally split by gender and many had special needs. One of the older babies had already received corrective surgery for clef palate and is doing very well.

While all of the children’s needs were met, the low caregiver-to-child-ratio (1:8) unfortunately made it hard for each child to be held enough and receive enough personal attention. Therefore we strove to give as much attention as possible to the kids who received the least. We fell in love with the happiest baby we’ve ever seen. She radiates happiness and despite her clef palate, she has the most sincere smile and her eyes light up as she laughs.

Keely and Kelly Update

Week Two

It has been a productive week. Its amazing how much…and how little…we get done everyday. The majority of the week, we have been conducting developmental screens of all the kids 4 and under. Many of the infants have presented with sensory and motor delay. We are using the
information that we have gained to put them into appropriate motor groups. One thing that has really amazed us is the increase in initiation of movement and engagement in play just during the
evaluation. At the start, most of the children are laying motionless on their backs in the cribs. By the end, we notice increased reaching, interest in toys and self-exploration and overall more
active movement. This has given us a lot of hope for the potential ALL these kiddos have.

We also developed a questionnaire for the caregivers at both Kechene and Kebebtsehay so that we can begin to better understand their difficulties and questions so that our educational programs will be relevant and worthwhile for them. We have started to work through their responses. As we were already keenly aware, their significant limitation is resources: diapers, formula, limited number of caregivers and medical treatment. We are going to work in the next week to better understand their current system such that we can help them get the most out of the resources they do have. This is a very challenging task- the balance of reality and optimism!

Yesterday, we had a surprise opportunity to spend time eating lunch with several adoptive families and their new children. It was a very rewarding opportunity for us to see the possibility that exists for these kids. There was a swirl of emotions for these families and children. As one husband and wife put it, “we are on day three of parenthood!” What an amazing and exciting time for them as they learn to adjust to their roles as parents to these incredible Ethiopia children.

Tomorrow we are going to assist the Gladney Center for Adoption by going to their foster care centers and helping perform personality updates for 40 children in their system. These updates are sent to adoptive families every 2 weeks to help keep them up to date with their child. We are both very interested to see the condition of the foster care centers to see how the care provided differs from the orphanages. We hope these personality and picture updates offer hope and excitement to the adoptive parents and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide them.

We are looking forward to the weekend and sorting through our evaluations to see where we’ll go from here. Thank you for your continued support and love.

Keely and Kelly
Superkids in Ethiopia

Kelly and Keely Update

Beautiful Children

We basically hit the ground running in our time here at Addis. After quickly getting settled in (buying groceries and a cell phone), we spent the last two days getting acquainted with two of the government orphanages: Kababitsahay and Kechene. We are so excited and have tons of beautiful kiddos and great projects to tell you all about, but first a quick introduction to the orphanages.

Kababitsahay houses infants through children aged 12, both girls and boys. Kechene has a small number of young children under the age of 12 but is primarily a home for young women 12-18 years old. All the children in the orphanages are finishing up school and about to begin summer vacation.

Basically the last two days we have been holding lots of babies and playing with kids in order to perform a very VERY general physical therapy triage to see what kids are in the most need of our services. We have also done a lot of observation of the caregivers and the structure of the orphanage to better understand the children’s routine: including their positioning, feeding, sleeping and play patterns. What we do know is that they all love to be held and cuddled. It is heartbreaking to let go of one even if it is to pick up another.

These observations and discussions with the director of the orphanage have given us a lot of great ideas. Our programs will aim to improve the movement and the development of the children as well as educate and supporte the caregivers and other orphanage staff. We hope to
have a more solid outline of these programs in the next week, but for now here is a glimpse of our plans:

1. Direct 1 on 1 care: There are currently 5 children with physical impairments limiting their participation in all activities. We are confident that we can positively impact their functional abilities with physical therapy interventions. We will develop and implement treatment plans which we will teach caregivers to continue upon our departure. We were delighted at the spirit of these beautiful children. They are all full of life and smiles and love all this new attention. Very soon we will introduce you to them individually.

2. Caregiver education: We will implement several full-day training sessions for all the child care providers. These programs will include education in: proper positioning/holding/lifting, feeding guidelines, hygiene, the importance of play, promoting bonding, behavior modification and tips to help caregivers with body mechanics and scheduling to ease their burden as well.

3. Age matched play groups: We are going to have play groups of 3-4 similar aged children and work on developmentally appropriate play, movement and peer interactions. We can’t wait to see their faces as we slowly begin to introduce all the toys we have brought to share!

4. Jewelry Program: Gladney provided jewelry and craft materials such as beads. ribbons and threads which we will deliver to the young women of Kechene. They will make jewelry and crafts that we will bring back to the United States and sold to support the children of Kechene. (so save your Christmas money!!!)

Thank you endlessly for your support of Superkids- Ethiopia. We are so excited to have the opportunity to serve these children on behalf of all of you! Since being here, we have had the opportunity to realize the enormous impact that Gladney Center for Adoption has on the welfare of these children. We are amazed at the breadth of support they provide to orphans and the orphanage system including: education, nutrition, clothing/shoes, shelter, medical needs and the list goes on and on. It is truly an inspiration to be involved with this organization that is invested in these children with such integrity and love. We will carry this vision and your support in all our interactions with these wonderful children!!

Kelly and Keely, DPT

Brighter Futures Camp Update

Meet a fourteen year-old Chinese boy who received his wish for a forever family.

I suggest you have some tissues on hand!

Lauren and Lisa have arrived in Harbin, China!

Duke University undergraduates, Lauren Kelly and Lisa Du will spend their summer in Harbin, China working with orphans at a local welfare institute. They are doing well, catching up on sleep, and looking forward to meeting the children. Stay tuned for updates.


Keely and Kelly are on their way!!!

Yesterday Keely and Kelly left for Ethiopia. Below is their update from London.



We are sitting in the London Heathrow airport waiting for our last leg of the flight to Addis. We are both excited, yet a little sleep deprived already! We have packed 98 pounds (yep, 98!!!) of toys and therapeutic necessities, donated of course by Superkids, the Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2009 and the Strasburg Presbyterian Church in Strasburg, Colorado. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to deliver these items and can't wait to begin working for the next seven weeks.
Stay tuned for more updates!

Superkids in Ethiopia

Meet Kelly and Keely

Superkids is so excited that Kelly Mortellite and Keely O'Dell will be volunteering their time this summer in Ethiopia. Both Kelly and Keely are physical therapists who have a passion for helping children! We are blessed to have them on our team!!!!!!


My name is Kelly Mortellite and I will soon be a graduate of the Duke University Doctor of Physical Therapy program in May. My passion in physical therapy is pediatrics and I love working with children. Another personal passion for me is international humanitarian aid, so the mission of Superkids touches close to my heart. I am most looking forward to embracing a new culture in Ethiopia, having the opportunity to work with disabled orphans and making a long-lasting effect by educating caregivers on optimizing development through activities, handling and positioning techniques. I am excited to spend the summer building relationships with the children in Africa and consider myself blessed to be working with an organization as wonderful as Superkids.


I am currently a physical therapy student at Duke University with expected graduation in May, 2009. I am excited about this opportunity as it unites my passions for travel and providing physical therapy services to children. I hope this experience will be the beginning of a life long journey to bring healthcare to underserved communities both nationally and internationally. I am very excited to share my knowledge with the kids and staff, but am equally thrilled about how much this experience will teach me. I love to laugh, play and have fun…I expect to do a lot of that during my 7 weeks in Ethiopia!

Welcome to our new blog! We are looking forward to updating everyone about Superkids and the orphans we help. Below are highlight from 2008!

Superkids Highlights - 2008

We cannot believe another year has passed. We are so proud of our accomplishments, yet so eager to do more in 2009! We hope our highlights from 2008 will leave you touched and inspired to continue your support for Superkids and our work to improve the quality of life for the orphans left behind!


Snow and power outages hit many parts of China. The snow quickly downed power lines and left many rural parts of soutnern China without electricity for weeks. Thanks to generous donations and teh invaluable help of Gongzhan Wu (Gladney's Asia Program Manager), Superkids was able to provide over $15,000 of emergency aid. Specifically, Superkids provided the following aid to the Yueyang, Xiangyin, Lingxian, and Xiangyin Welfare institutes: heaters, soft mats, baby formula, clothes, diapers, a power converter, and financial supplement for the expenses of repairing damage.

Superkids Partners with Hunan Orphanages

Superkids made 2 trips to Hunan, China in 2008. We had the privilege of visiting the Yueyang and ZhuZhou Social Welfare Institutes. Traveling were Superkids founder and Gladney mom, Janet Fink, Cardiologist and Gladney mom Dr. Eileen McAleer, speech pathologist Kathy deMaCarty, and physical therapists Karen Teters and Patricia Marcus. Superkids started early intervention programs and provided caregiver training for orphans ranging in age from infant to teen.

Superkids Speech therapist Kathy DeMaCarty, Hunan, China

Superkids founder, Janet Fink, Hunan, China

Superkids in Ethiopia

Superkids sent Duke University student, Samir Derisavifard, to Ethiopia for 2 months in summer 2008. Samir interned for Superkids through Duke University's Duke Engage program which funds undergraduate internships abroad. During his internship, Samir worked with healthy and disabled school-aged orphaned boys.

Samir (far left) and Ethiopian volunteer, Alex (far right) provided intensive therapeutic exercise for Jordi (middle). Now Jordi can sit up, feed himself, and can stand with assistance. Superkids therapists will be sending 2 physical therpapists to Ethiopia for 2 months this summer to begin intensive therapeutic programs in orphanages in Addia Ababa.

Superkids in Shanghai

Superkids made 4 trips to the Shangahi Children's Home in 2007 and 2008. Superkids provided caregiver training and medical evaluations for healthy and special needs orphans. Superkids therapists taught classes and conducted workshops in oral motor therapy, feeding problems, and physical therapy. Dr. Eileen McAleer examined children with heart problems.

Superkids cardiologist, Dr. Eileen McAleer

Superkids Delivers Wheelchairs to Teen Orphans in Shanghai

Both Ying Ying and Feng Feng were injured when they were approximately 7 years old. Feng Feng collapsed at a mall and Ying Ying fell down some stairs. Both were taken to the local orphanage after their injury.

They each suffer from depression due to their injury, abandonment, and knowledge they are too old to be adopted. They also experience physical pain, sores, and poor breathing from sitting in bad chairs.

Feng Feng

Ying Ying

Both girls glowed when they finally sat in their new chairs, which will improve their breathing, help prevent sores, and reduce upper body pain.

Gladney Brighter Futures Camp

In October, 2008, Superkids therapists and founder, Janet Fink, traveled to Beijing to participate in a very special program, Gladney's Brighter Futures Camp. This camp was designed to improve the chances of finding homes for older orphans (age 8-13). Several of these orphans had mild-moderate disabilities. Superkids therapists evaluated the disabled children in order to provide accurate updates to prospective adoptive families. Superkids was extremely impressed with the camp children - they were cream of the crop! We keep them in our prayers and are doing everything we can to find homes for them.

To learn more about these amazing children please visit Gladney's Brighter Futures Camp Blog