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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Camp Mighty Eagle

My name is Farohiddin. I am 14 years old, in the 9th grade. Last summer, I went to a remarkable camp. It was a family camp, organized by CDI Kara-Suu staff members Erna and Andreas.  In early July, 75 of us left together for the camp, stopping along the way for a picnic and some get-to-know-you games.  That was only the beginning of a great time.

Every day we had 3 delicious meals. One day we went on a half-day hike and another day we hiked up to a crystal-clear mountain lake with glaciers behind it and a long snowfield we could slide down. It was amazing to play on snow in the summer! Watching the sun rise every morning warmed not only my face but my heart. Games, handicrafts– like building a kite–and learning many facts about the eagle made this camp a very special experience. I made new friends and improved my English by talking with the foreign visitors who helped with the camp. I was so glad my father took time off work so that we could make unforgettable memories together.  I hope in the future I can be a small group leader at camp too.

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Summer Camp Memories

Weather is changing, along with the leaves in Kyrgyzstan, and as children finish their first quarter of school many are looking back fondly on summer camp memories.

CDI partnered with one summer camp this year with a Chronicles of Narnia theme. Every counselor had a character-based group of kids: Centaurs, Beavers, Fauns, Foxes etc. Aslan was played by the camp director. Each day also had its own character-building themes including hospitality, friendship, overcoming temptation, forgiveness, kindness, and more.

Team-building games and sharing times knit the groups closer than even the staff could have imagined on the first day. Many children opened up about life experiences they had never shared before. They sensed that this was a safe space and learned to trust their counselors and group-mates.  Mentally healthier children can help build stronger communities.

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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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Hockey Tournament Extraordinaire

 

 

 

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At the whistles blow, orange and green jerseys shot off after the wife ball, hockey sticks low to the ground. The game lasted only nine minutes but both teams scored twice. Then orange swapped out for the black, and the tournament continued.

CDI’s sport project has been teaching floorball in four different schools over the past year and the students had a chance to test their skills against each other in an all-day long tournament. At first, in their excitement, they forgot about passing, everyone trying for the goal themselves. Fortunately, each team had a coach who reminded them of their teamwork training and the kids started working together.
The top three teams received medals and every school was given a certificate of participation.

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Floorball is a new sport in Southern Kyrgyzstan but it’s taking off very well. Students participate eagerly, and older youth have formed community teams that come together for weekly games at a public stadium. One team even made their own equipment so that they can practice during the week.  Stay tuned for the latest scores!

Volunteer in the Village

What’s a great way to help people while you explore your own interests and talents?  Volunteer with CDI!  Marvin B. came from Germany to Kyrgyzstan for 6 months, helping tutor German children of CDI staff and doing work in the community.  One of Marvin’s biggest contributions was in the preschool (kindergarten) in a village outside the city of Osh.  Marvin helped decorate the boring blank walls of the building with paintings of cartoon characters the children knew and loved.  Teachers and even some of the children got into the act.  And the new walls were ready in time for the big celebration for visiting dignitaries.  It made the perfect backdrop for the children’s songs, dances, and costumes.  Now CDI is looking into other ways to help and support this preschool.  DSCF8413-(Large)comp