St. Francis of Assisi

"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words"
~ it is always necessary... but make sure you live what you preach now!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The First Couple Weeks: COBT

Hello Canada from Lilongwe!

It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Children of Blessing Trust (COBT)! I will say off the bat that I will not have any pictures from the centre for a while yet and I thought this should come with an explanation. Often people come to help and volunteer in places like Malawi and these folks often choose to hide behind a camera. I don't want to do that. Building strong relationships with my clients and fellow co-workers is priority one. Then, when these friendships have been built up and trust is built, I will ask if it's okay to take a picture. Sorry if this is disappointing to anyone. It's just the way it is.

Wow, so COBT, what a place! Busy doesn't even describe how much gets done around here!  Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings are mostly for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and epilepsy to get physio treatment. We see a lot of children in a very short period of time. It's crazy busy and fast, "GO, GO, GO!" or no one gets seen. Once treatment is completed we start the nutrition section of our day by giving out a soya/maze based porridge to the mums to feed their children. It's not bad, most of the staff including me have a bowl at the same time. Once nutrition is completed we start our Standing Program for CP level 1. Using home made standing frames we "strap" the kids to the frames to weight bear through their feet. This is done to help in preparation for future standing practice, cruising, and walking. However, these other activities only take place in CP levels 2 and 3, in which I have not yet worked. Post Standing Program it's lunch hour, then off to the outreach clinics. There are six different clinics in total and each is serviced twice a week. Fridays is the only exception to this. There is a staff run prayer and worship time that happens after lunch followed by home visits.

Now, Tuesdays and Thursdays both deserve special explanation into what happens on those days. I'll save that for another post soon to come.

I will end off by saying this. I am out of my depth here. Malawi is a beautiful country with wonderful customs I'm not yet accustomed too. That's overwhelming, but okay. This will be and has been a real stretching experience. One thing I have noticed while being here is how death is very much a part of everyday life, or least it appears so for the time being. We had a death last week. One of our COBT kids who had full sponsorship and who was making big improvements, choked. We were all completely heart broken. This is not uncommon with CP as the condition can affect the swallowing mechanism. A few days after this tragedy, one of our staff had to leave for a funeral. Her sister-in-law had passed away. Life in a developing nation is not life in Canada, yet parts are so similar. People are people - and in the end there are human traits that cross cultures so that no ocean, landmass, language or socioeconomic status could possibly separate them from being almost universal to humanity. We deal with things in ways our OWN cultures have taught us; we express ourselves through different customs. But grief is grief, and joy is joy. Here a funeral lasts three to seven days. It starts the moment someone dies. In the west, it's a short event. It lasts maybe a day at most. In Malawi, when a loved one dies everybody stays with you in your house and goes with you wherever you need to bury them even if that means traveling across the entire country to do so.

That's not the most exciting ending to a post but that's where we will leave it for today.

Thank you all for reading, and for your prayers.
God bless you,
Jason - Lilongwe from Home

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