Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Play Therapy for Malnourished Babies

This is the typical rusted crib with a string used to hang toys. None of these cribs are safety standard so arms and legs are constantly getting stuck and babies are crying. It hurt my soul as a therapist and mom to see these babies on their backs and under-stimulated for hours a day.
Thanks to the generous contributions of people from Lakeland to St.Pete- I was able to collect baby mobiles to install on the cribs. The excellent stimulation of both sounds and sight brought coos and laughter from the little faces. They stared in amazement! As a mother, I felt the same way I did when I stared into the eyes of my own child discovering a new surprise I had hung over their crib. This was one of the most rewarding moments of my life as research shows that adding just a mobile alone can increase a child's IQ 
Gymboree Parachute was the basis for all our play therapy. Instead of crying malnourished babies, we stimulated smiles, giggles and lots of developmental movement! 
Gymbo the clown puppet was loved by all! 
Therapy time checking the babies for head control and posture using Gymboree bolster- 
I have never loved being a therapist more than this day when I was able to elicit movement and developmental play. 

Get the Party Started !

We broke out the bubbles for the toddlers ! 
The play tube was a hit! A new type of play experience from the indoor play set ! Everyone took turns crawling through but one little girl decided to stop and read a book along the way! 
My son Holt found the Gymboree bubbles and went to town blowing bubbles for the toddlers! These bubbles were so good everyone said we were "bubble-fied" by the end of the day. Thank you lakeland Gymboree for the bubbles! What a wonderful gift of fun to these kids with so little in life-
We took the toddlers into the courtyard for playtime and snuggles...and of course...more bubbles! 
The Gymboree parachute was the biggest hit of all. They had never seen such colors - The toddlers want to swing in it, lay on it, play on it and move it up and down. We had a spanish gymboree session that resulted in giggles and smiles. Wow! This is fun- 

Inside the Malnutrition Center-

The only piece of play equipment and it was indoors! It is on a concrete floor and all the ball and toys are placed in one big bin. Children are not taken outside.
The supply room for medical supplies and formula- Some well-meaning people have actually sent them expired formula and meds- 
Lesson#1: Don't give people in need junk! 
Antiquated wash room where Guatemalan man had donated his time to wash out soiled clothes and help clean linens for children. He comes every day out of the kindness of his heart because no one can afford to pay him anymore and there are not enough childcare workers to do laundry.
Lesson #2 Everyday heroes rarely get paid for their work....  

The Malnutrition Center

This is my husband Mark - who leads our family with such love and is one amazing, strong man.  
This is the whole family- three boys and a lady! 
This is just one of the many hugs and kisses I love to give my own children ! Being a wife and mother over the last 15 years has been full of unexpected adventures, heartaches, magic moments and monumental blunders! That is motherhood- It is filled with the unpredictable joys and sorrows of life yet the experience is unforgettable ! I never knew that every moment of every day was building character and strength in my heart. It was giving me an ability to love even through the most difficult situations and wake up again and again to do it- over and over- another diaper, another lunch box to clean- another boo-boo to heal....just the simple moments of motherhood are the best training ground. When my husband wanted me to go on a mission's trip to Guatemala I about killed him! No Way! I thought of a million reasons why I could not go- time, money, two children who didn't meet the age requirement, safety, and just plain old fear of the unknown. I didn't have what it took....or so I thought...But one day God opened my heart , I said yes, and believed that if God called me he could take care of the details - I faced my fears and what I found on the other side was the most amazing experience of my life- .... All those years of mothering gave me every ounce of love I needed, all the strength, all the faith, and every skill I could possibly need to love children in need. I looked in their faces and saw the face of my own children. 

Within the First Five Minutes of Entering the Center

Within the first five minutes of walking in the Malnutrition Center, this little fellow ran up to me and reached his arms up to be held. My heart instantly melted.. I was touching and holding the the living words of God to care for orphans. I had heard the scripture verse before from James 1:27 that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress....I just didn't know how adorable that scripture would look with a precious Guatemala face, beautiful dark hair and wearing tiny gray pants. I gave him my best mommy snuggle and treated him like I do when I used to hold my little boys....and..... look at that smile.  Notice our team standing in the entry way still taking pictures of the facility while I got the grand welcome!! What a welcome to the world of international childrens ministry. I 'm sold!