China Mission Trip: Internet Troubles and Status Update
Due to challenges with the internet connection in China, this blog was written by Teresa Anthony on behalf of the Cole Health team currently on mission in Hengyang. The team hopes to send a blog soon, but in the meantime Stephannie Brajot shared the following updates with Teresa via phone call on Tuesday night (in Texas)/Wednesday morning (in China) as well as Thursday night (in Texas)/Friday morning (in China).
Greetings from China! Thank you all for your messages and prayers. We really appreciate the clinical and emotional support you are providing while we are here. The trip is only partially complete and as Stephannie said “this has been a tremendous experience!” For several days we have been working with some of the 130 children in this orphanage. As Cole Health has learned from previous mission trips, all of the children have some degree of delay in the areas of social, linguistic, physical and sensory development. Since we are unfamiliar to the children, we have been working diligently to develop a rapport with each of them. The caretakers work faithfully alongside us, teaching us about the children’s strengths and weaknesses and providing information about medical and social histories. The children’s birthdates are not known so most children have a two year range of age assigned to them. For example, a child who looks like she is 3 years old is reportedly 2 to 4 years old.
We have been introduced to and are focusing our efforts on some very medically fragile children. There are several syndromes evident from Pierre Robin to Apert to Treacher Collins. Most of the children who present with these syndromes appear to be cognitively intact. There are children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy ranging from severe to profound and presenting with many different abilities. Many of the children are blind. Amanda and Jessica have been focusing their work on the older children with more physical disabilities and Stephannie has been focusing on the younger children with unrepaired cleft palates and other disabilities that would impact feeding/swallowing and linguistic development. Stephannie has been spending a lot of her time working with one particular little girl…as members of previous Cole Health mission teams can empathize, Stephannie mentioned she has fallen in love with this one! Please pray that this child will experience greater success with feeding soon.
The orphanage has caretakers who have been trained as therapists. They have some foundational understanding of speech therapy and are implementing therapy groups in the orphanage. Stephannie reported that they are so positive and work very hard to make their therapy sessions fun for the children. Stephannie is planning a “therapist training” to teach the therapists to provide the children with more opportunities to use language in their daily routine, to teach the children who are non-verbal to use eye gaze and other non-verbal modes of communication, and to use a literacy-based approach in the therapy groups. The orphanage staff even ordered some books to use in the therapy sessions! The children will be participating in story book reading with books such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Little Pigs, all translated into Chinese!
We have several days left to work in the orphanage and are excited to share more stories with you all soon. We have learned that we definitely take the internet access in the US for granted. In Hong Kong, a typical internet café charge is $5/15 minutes! In Hengyang, the charge is only 60 cents!! The internet café is FULL of smoke at night (there are no rules against smoking in public places). Stephannie just learned she has the most success breathing clean air in the café at 6:00 in the morning, China time!
We miss you all dearly and we will do our best to send more from China soon!
Stephannie, Amanda and Jessica