Kemondo, Easter 2012
The Lord has risen from the dead, as he said; Let us all exult and rejoice, For he reigns for all eternity.
Dear Friends and Supporters of St. Nicholaus Children`s Center Kemondo, We, the caretakers and children are sending you our Easter greetings!
At the moment the children are enjoying their Easter break from school. There are neither Easter eggs nor Easter bunnies in Tanzania, however we made little nests with margarine containers and banana leaves and filled them with sweets. After Holy Mass on Easter Sunday we plan to spend the day out at the beach of Lake Victoria.
It has been seven months now since we moved into the building and slowly we have become a family. Since January two Franciscan Sisters are working at St. Nicholaus. We have employed staff and we divide the work according to people`s skills and the needs that arise.
From February until the end of April a volunteer from Germany has joined us. She is great with the kids and the workers. She fits right in and we are happy to have her. In March we had two more young German women live with us. Both are studying occupational therapy and they were doing an internship required for their school. The children are happy about all the attention. For us the volunteers are a big help.
In December we received another child. Asimwe is 12 years old. She has a very rare skin disease that is not infectious but very disfiguring. She is also hard of hearing, had been severely neglected and had never gone to school. Little by little we see some progress. Since January Asimwe attends kindergarten at a local school. She is so proud to be in school at last. Regarding her skin condition we are trying different medicines and we also are in contact with dermatologists in Germany to look for some advice regarding treatment. However, the big miracle has not yet happened. The treatment needed is not available in Tanzania. But Asimwe is laughing again and has started to enjoy life. We just discovered that she is very good at arts and crafts.
Christoph too goes to kindergarten now. He has cerebral palsy and needs a lot of assistance. But intellectually he is very sharp. He loves to talk and to laugh and he is very charming. He too is proud to be in school.
Six of our eleven children are either mentally or physically disabled or both. We are happy to have found nearby schools for three disabled children. Only three children stay home due to their intellectual challenges. For those children we have set goals to learn independent living skills. A Swiss special needs teacher visits us twice a week and supports us professionally with her advice and teachings.
In order to support the parents of disabled children in our area we started “St. Nicholaus Outpatient Clinic“. Every Saturday a physical and occupational therapist provides clinical care. He diagnoses the disabilities, does exercises with the children, prescribes medicine etc. From time to time specialist doctors come to a nearby hospital and if necessary children are referred to these specialists. We also help the parents to find schools for their children. Since we moved into St. Nicholaus Children`s Center in September 2011 thirty three parents – mostly mothers – have come to us to look for help. Until now the clinic takes place in our living room. There will not be sufficient space in the future, which is why in March we have started to construct “St. Nicholaus Outpatient Clinic.” The building will provide space for three offices, a small bathroom and a large multi-purpose room.
We have many requests to receive children. Only those children who cannot be cared for by their families are accepted into St. Nicholaus Children’s Center. Every request to receive a child is viewed under this criterion and is presented to the local Social Welfare Office.
Last week I made a home visit. In October 2011 the mother died unexpectedly of complications during pregnancy. The father is not able to care for his five children, the youngest being 3 years old, and the oldest 15. The grandmother now takes care of the children. Annajoyce is 6 years old and the second youngest child. She has “Spina Bifida” that was never operated. Fortunately, she is able to walk but due to her disability she has no control over her urine and stool. Because of that she does not attend school. Her grandmother cares for her as best as she can. We are in dialogue with the father and Social Welfare Office what the best options for Annajoyce are.
This is only a small glimpse into our daily life. Our days are noisy, colorful, full of life and happy!
We wish all of you happy Easter and we are grateful for your continued support,
Stefanie Köster and the children and caretakers of St. Nicholaus Children`s Center Kemondo