Sunday, April 19, 2015

Keith's Observations

As we work through each day, there are little moments that catch your eye and capture your thoughts. Tanna wrote about her interactions with Anthony…I was working and like a slapstick comedy…saw the two of them flash past the windows playing tag balcony.  His giggle and just pure enjoyment of that time was wonderful.

In Shanghai, there was a little boy with cleft lip/palate.  Early in the assessment process I snap a quick photo of the child with a whiteboard that contains their information – a basic “ID” photo.  These are not wonderfully thought out portraits!  One little boy approached with the usual apprehension.  As I raised my camera, he instantly opened his mouth and tipped his head back.  I would drop the camera…he would close his mouth and tip his head forward.  We did this little dance about 6 times…like we were absolutely connected.  I was able to snap a quick shot without raising the camera up fully (I’m sneaky that way!) and he moved on.  A bit later, I noticed Erin interacting with him…and the same connected dance of camera and mouth ensuing.  She would try to lift his chin to indicate to close his mouth - we love seeing those beautiful smiles – and I think she was finally able to grab the shots she needed.







It struck me:  this little boy seemed to be defined by his medical need.  I am guessing that when he is visited by outsiders or medical staff – everyone focuses on the inside of his mouth.  As a result, he has learned the drill and instinctively opens his mouth and tips his head back – almost with the feeling of ‘OK, I know what you are here for…let’s make this easy and get it over with’.  How sad that the individual focus he receives is seemingly related only to a medical issue.  How would it feel if every time you met someone, instantly the conversation focused on something like that?  These children need the presence and acceptance of the unconditional love of a family – someone to help them see themselves for the wonderfully perfect beings that they are and ensure they understand that they are NOT DEFINED by medical needs.

This is the same little boy, he just took his jacket off and warmed up after a little playing with balls!

The SuperKids team certainly addresses and evaluates a child’s medical needs.  BUT…they go so much further – they capture the child’s personality and the stories of interactions that provide glimpses of the child beyond the situation they find themselves in.  I believe it is our hope that the children leave their brief time with us knowing that they are special and feeling that they are valued as people – with as much focus on their giggles and playfulness as their medical issues.  I know that Anthony was blessed in that way by his time playing with Tanna.

-Keith