Kelly's Wonderful Work with Orphans with Disabilities

This was my second time in Ethiopia working at Kebeb Tsehay and I feel pretty comfortable with the people and knowing my way around things so we didn't have any problems jumping right in. I had a few days to dig through and process everything I noted my first day back to the orphanage and get an idea of what we could feasibly accomplish during our short time (no matter how long you are in Ethiopia, it is always short- I have decided I could live there full there's a thought! :) and never feel like I get it all done). Alex is seriously AMAZING. He is SO dedicated to the children with disabilities at the orphanage and I have so much faith in his capabilities. I mean we can teach him or show him something once and he just gets it. He's creative and smart and loves these children as his own.


It is also reassuring to know Alex's presence is constant and stable. We know, therefore, anything we invest in him- time, money, equipment, training- the children will benefit more fold that we can probably grasp. We were so excited to create a "physical therapy binder" of sorts which was birthed from a three hour training program we gave to the nurses. We had an informal, practical session with the nurses at the orphanage reviewing appropriate positioning specific for each child, development and how to best intervene with each child to prevent deformity and improve quality of life. If there is something I learned from last time, the best thought-out training with the best preparation is only as good as the people you present to. I need to clarify- I presented to AMAZING caregivers last time. They were interested and engaged during the training sessions and implemented so many of our recommendations in the following week. When I returned this time around, I realized that there had been SO many changes at the orphanage. There have been new directors, new buildings of epic proportions (literally, I had to do some double takes to make sure I was still at the same place!), the old buildings are undergoing renovations, the school building has changed and there have been a lot of changes in caregiver staff. In fact, there were only about four caregivers that were the same. Many have apparently retired or moved on, along with all the information we presented 1.5 years ago. We've been brainstorming and our future plans are for another post entirely, but our wheels are turning for longevity and sustainability of all projects, including training sessions. So the nurses we're very interested in our training program and once again, began implementing our strategies quickly. Nick and I know this is all fantastic but lessons learned, how can we assure all of these new strategies will continue with more staff changes?

Alex and Kelly with Binders

We received special permission to take pictures of some of the children for this binder. We spent one morning working individually with each child, taking pictures of different positions and physical therapy interventions. We were assured that a few basic English comments alongside each picture could be read since the time to translate just wasn't there, so we created a 22 page document that includes color pictures with simple, easy to read blurbs describing the what the picture displays. I was actually fairly shocked at how many hours this took to set up, format and print (although I shouldn't be surprised that things take long in Ethiopia by now :) ), but all that just made the final product that much more gratifying. We made two copies- one to be kept in the room with the children for the nursing and caregiver staff that have a few less pages because some of the higher level physical therapy interventions could cause damage over the long term if not implemented exactly correctly, and another for Alex that was complete with all the pages including those related to the stander (we'll be getting there too, I promise!). If the nursing staff changes, there is a copy for the new nurses to see with clean pictures and descriptions. If the binder disappears from the orphanage, Alex, our dependable, reliable, wonderful friend and who spends the mornings of Monday-Friday at Kebeb Tsehay, has another copy that he can recreate if needed. We used binders, page protectors and a simple format to hopefully increase the life span of our training manuals. This binder is the first on a small scale of what we're thinking for the future, but it's a start having taken some previous lessons with future visions which is what this partnership is all about.