Thanksgiving Fall

Lately the children in the children’s home have been learning a lot of new things. They’re attending school classes, handy craft lessons and basic life-skills lessons.

We are so proud of them and want to let everyone know what they’ve learned these past months. That’s why we decided to throw a party, a Fall party. During this party the children can show what they’ve been learning. The weeks running up to the party, a few of the girls from the walking group also practiced a dance to perform during the Fall party.

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Finally, the day of the Fall party arrives. The room fills up with volunteers, staff members and other guests. The children are so excited. They are all dressed up in their best outfit and the girls even put on some make-up. After they all lined up nicely the party starts. They open with a song, then their crafts are shown and they end their presentation by telling a poem one by one. You can see how proud they are from the big smiles on their faces.Afterwards the teachers have some games prepared. They blind fold a child who has to guess what kind of fruit or veggie is in their hands. Even some staff members participate in the games.

And of course a party without food and dancing is no party at all, so we ate cake and danced till everyone was tired and ready to take a nap.

 

Walking in Kara Suu

Turaim is 6 years old.  Problems with her birth left her unable to walk normally, so she has spent most of her life sitting and watching the world go by.  Amazingly, her older brother Ali has had similar problems and a similar limited life.  However, that has changed a little for the children because their neighbor works as the bookkeeper for CDI-Kara Suu.  This man mentioned the family to his colleagues.  While the Kara-Suu office has worked primarily in the areas of community health and vocational training, the staff knew that the Bishkek and Jalal-abad offices have done a great deal with special needs children.

So after some consultation with staff in Jalal-abad, Andreas in Kara Suu (with some help from his visiting son) were able to construct walkers for Turaim and Ali.  In the culture here there is stigma from having a disabled child.  CDI not only gave these children a little dignity by helping them walk, we are able to encourage the parents that all children are a gift and deserve love and care.

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Professional Guests

A doctor, nurse, physical therapist, speech therapist and a special needs teacher, all on one dream team. One week, 2 home visits, 3 training seminars, 4 visits to the special needs children’s home, and dozens of children with more exact diagnoses and therapy plans.

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The speech therapist shows CDI staff how to massage a child’s cheeks.

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CDI caregivers learn how to help this 8-year-old boy get up on his knees.

The team split up at different times during the week, giving focused training and consultations in their field. The nurse and doctor visited villages with CDI’s Community Health Education team as part of an ongoing Women’s Health seminar. The therapists and teacher joined a parents’ support group and offered new ideas specifically for the special needs children who attended with their mothers.

CDI staff absorbed all the training and hands-on practice we could, asking questions about kids we work with as well as general principles for working with special needs.  It’s all part of CDI’s commitment to developing people in communities.

Visit to Lovely Soul

This four-year-old’s name literally means “Lovely Soul.” When she grins, you can see that it’s a good fit.

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We’ve been visiting her for one year, and last time we complemented her mom on how much progress we saw. She is slowly learning to sit on her own, drink from an open dish and train her core muscles.

At Christmastime we brought her a present that included a pair of sunglasses that she sports well.

CDI visits 3 to 4 families with special eeds children every week. We take time to talk with the parents about their struggles and questions as well as doing play therapy with the children. Many of the children know us by name and eagerly

 

 

await our visits. Parents express their appreciation; many of them have no one else to talk to about their special children.

Seeing Results

Work with disabled children is a slow process, and we seldom get to see the fruit of our labors.  One CDI staff member was going about his physical therapy business, when the mother of one of the disabled kids stop by.  “Monty” didn’t think much of it because this mom frequently stopped by to see her son, one of the boys Monty does therapy with.  But this day was different.  The lady wasn’t just coming by to visit her son but to get the documentation, collect his things, and take the boy home from the institution!

“Why are you taking him back now?” Monty asked, with a mixture of surprise and relief.

The mother answered quickly, “Because he can walk now!”

Monty’s hours of repetitive therapy paid off for this boy, and Monty was gratified by the chance to see results.

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Birthday Picnics

“Who would give $25 to provide a birthday party for a child who’s never had one before?” This was the challenge to my friends on social media. The response was enough to keep CDI partying for the rest of the year! The hope is to give every child at the local institution for children with special needs a birthday to remember.

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For the first two parties CDI staff and volunteers brought children to a hill near the city where they could be out in nature, pick flowers and get outside the institution. For many of the children it was their first trip to the hill; they gazed with round eyes as they drove through trees and saw their first glimpse of distant mountains.

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Sitting in the shade of pistachio trees, the children feasted on homemade sandwiches and birthday cake, fruit, juice and carrot salad. The first trip was with girls who can walk, so they strolled along the hill picking flowers before gathering to play volleyball. The second group is more mobility-challenged, so they did crayon rubbings of leaves and flowers.

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At the end of both picnics the children were told how these parties were made possible; they said a big “Thank You!”

A Remarkable Outing

In much of the world, an afternoon in nature, barbecuing a delicious meal is an ordinary–if welcome–break from the routine. For the kids from the disabled children’s orphanage outside of the city of Bishkek, however, this is not a typical weekend getaway but a rare and exciting occasion to get out of the walled-in institution and to touch and explore everything that they possibly can. When we all arrived at our picnic spot, part of our team prepared and grilled the meat, the other part walked the kids Soviet-era children’s camp, exploring trails that were wheelchair-friendly enough to push through.

When the explorers had satisfied their curiosity, they travelled to the rushing river to splash around in the cold water, thrill in the feel of the water running across their bare feet, throwing rocks and sinking their hands into the mud next to the river’s banks, being like any other kid would be in their place. This time came to an end far too quickly, but they were just as eager to leave the riverside as they were to get to it in the first place, as now the plates overflowing with BBQed meat, pickles and chips, with as many refills as anyone wanted.
Most of them elected to lay around under the shade of the trees once the meal was over, clearly drowsy from the great feast they had partaken in, while a few of the more energetic ones decided to return to the river for photos and more play. What seemed to be only minutes was then proved to have been hours as the orphanage bus returned, and all the glowing happy-faced kids were bundled up for their return trip to their current home. Choruses of thank yous poured out of the van windows in Russian, Kyrgyz and English as the waving kids drove off and out of our sight, and our memory making time together came to an end for that particular special day.
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Helpful Horses

The Bishkek CDI office is pleased to announce that the therapeutic riding program is up and running, with 3 horses ready for gentle, nurturing action. Kids who have been touched by the Children at Risk project staff in the homes for disabled children are candidates for riding therapy.

Bakit didn’t seem at first like a good candidate, though. At 8 years old, he was terrified of the horses when he first got near them. In addition, both arms and legs are affected by cerebral palsy, and Bakit had very little trunk control, which is necessary to sit on a horse at all. Bakit’s first session of therapeutic riding had much more crying and flopping around than horse riding—he was barely on the horse for 5 minutes. But the team decided to keep at for 2 weeks before re-evaluation as to whether or not this was the ightherapy for Bakit. We’re happy to report that after the 2 weeks—4 sessions—Bakit was glad to see the horses when he arrived at the stable, and he was able to ride for a good 10 minutes. After 2 months, he’s riding for 20-25 minutes with very good head and trunk control. He sits up straight with head held high and a big smile on his beautiful face. And there’s a bonus. The cerebral palsy had affected Bakit’s ability to speak, but since he’s been riding, he’s starting to talk a little too

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Celebrating Accomplishment

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Altyn and Nazokat were thankful they at least had each other. The sisters having cerebral palsy meant that they couldn’t do all the things other children do in Kyrgyzstan, but their grandparents had given them a good home and some life skills. However, when the girls’ grandmother died, their aging grandfather couldn’t care for them, so Nazokat and Altyn had to go live at the state institution for disabled children in Jalal-abad. Nazokat was especially depressed to be in the place. But life improved a bit for the two girls, and a number of others in the children’s home, when the CDI-sponsored education for disabled children started. Altyn and Nazokat, along with others in their orphanage, learned basic reading and writing. “School” brought a break in the orphanage routine and a good dose of self-esteem. The school year ended with a presentation for parents and orphanage staff, and a fun picnic lunch.

CDI recently completed our third year of education for disabled children, this year expanding to the orphanage in the south of the country in Jalal-abad. Some 50 children, in 3 institutions, received education. They also got certificates to prove their accomplishments.

Classes start again soon. And no one is sad about back-to-school here!

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CDI staff with children at the year-end celebration.

Timothy’s Day


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IMG_8126“Timothy” never smiles. He keeps his eyes on the ground and scoots silently out of the way if someone comes near. Every day he sits in a bare room passing the time listening to 15 other kids yell and fight.

But not today. Today Timothy and 5 others from his group were taken to the park for the first time in their lives.

Today someone pushed him around in a wheelchair and pointed out the sights.

Today someone talked to him, lifted him into the carousel and bought him 3 ice creams.

Today someone’s goal was to make Timothy smile.

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This summer CDI is working in cooperation with the Children’s Home to bring every kid who can to the park at least once. They love the attention, the rides, sights, sounds and ice cream.

 

 

We’ve been surprised at the reaction from people in the park. Vendors and ride attendants told us not to pay for the rides and snacks. Other park goers are surprised, saying, “We didn’t know there were kids like this. Where are they from? Why are you helping them?” Awareness is rising in the community and we hope it brings more good attention for the Children’s Home.

For Timothy and others like him, this first day of smiling is just the beginning. He deserves to smile every day; we are working to make that possible.