Progress at Social Support

Vietnam Volunteer:

Progress at Social Support

We’ve been back at work with the children since Monday morning, focusing on activities and exercises for the children with cerebral palsy, and keeping the babies free of illness. Had a couple scares on Monday afternoon at AOV2 with some pretty sick babies. Treated them as I am able with my limited pharmacy, and hope to avoid any trips to the hospital this week. I suspect virus/flu, no bacterial pneumonia as far as I can tell. If a Vietnamese person gets sick there is no option but to go to the hospital. There are no clinics, no urgent care, no doctors’ offices. There are 2 inpatient hospitals in DaNang for a city of over 1 million people.

This week we have continued our routine of care/activities at the Social Support Center: breakfast, brush teeth, toilet, practice dressing, physical therapy, crafts, playtime and English lessons. Sounds simple by our standards, but carting around 11 children with varying degrees of intellectual disabilities and a few others with cerebral palsy can be a daunting task. Fortunately, with the help of 5 volunteers and a few “mothers” we always get the work done, and are seeing improvements! On Wednesday we focused on hand-washing and the kids seemed to enjoy it! They love any activity involving water!

Sandy, a physical therapist from Australia currently volunteering in Tam Ky, has come to visit us and work with the severely disabled children a couple times this month. Her instructions and recommendations have already made a profound difference. One child, Lu, is 16 years old and has moderate Downs Syndrome. He is a brand new resident of Social Support and we are starting at “square one” with the rehab, as he has been virtually immobile most of his life, without the opportunity to use his legs…until NOW! With Sandy’s instructions and our support, Lu took his first few steps this week - the first time he has walked in probably forever!!! It was astounding.

Another child, Lagu, is 14 and has some severe intellectual handicaps, probably as a result from deprivation and/or head trauma as a small child (but we don’t know for sure). He is very under-developed for his age, is nonverbal, and communicates with sounds and facial expressions. In recent months have been encouraging walks, exercise, and close one-on-one attention. I noticed this week his eye contact has improved, he is loving his walks/runs around the compound, he makes more noises, claps his hands and SMILES! Today, I actually received one giant, sincere HUG from Lagu. It was such an honest display of affection; an unforgettable moment for me. He looked at me with his deep brown eyes, squealed and smiled, and wrapped his arms around my neck. It was without a doubt the best hug I have ever received.

Elizabeth