Life is different with Kyle. It’s a kind of different that many other families understand, though. And those are the families Jacob’s Fund serves.
As a supporter of Jacob’s Fund‘s project, “Give Equine Therapy to Children with Disabilities,” we know that you like to keep up with “our kids" because your heart is with these families as well.
Kyle is one of “our kids;” he receives hippotherapy at Hilltop Equestrian Center in West Alexandria, Ohio.
Kyle is 8-1/2, but his severe autism means he and his entire family are “stuck in toddlerhood.” He’s still nonverbal and, though a tall boy from two tall parents, he still needs his diapers changed. Unable to communicate, he often becomes frustrated.
Stressful? Yes. Challenging? Certainly. And to be honest, sometimes sad.
But Kyle isn’t a burden, as his mom, Kelli explains. Her blog about life with Kyle is titled “Not Just Anyone” because Kyle is not just anyone, but an exceptional blessing.
So what has your support for this exceptional blessing meant over the last year and a half, and what does it mean as he continues hippotherapy at Hilltop Equestrian Center?
Well, we’re rooting for Kyle to become verbal, both for the delight of hearing him communicate and because it will greatly lower his frustration level. And since he’s been receiving hippotherapy, he’s begun to enjoy vocalization and he has started to refer to people and objects using the same vocalization each time. He’s also recently learned to wave “Bye.”
Hippotherapy reinforces Kyle’s learning at his new school for children with autism. Amy, his therapist, is excited about Kyle’s progress. “He’s made so much progress! Especially with sequencing and attention to task. Now we’re working on letter identification.”
Kyle is delighted by his favorite videos, riding under bridges and through tunnels, eating pizza, laughing and screaming as his family makes calls on him with the referee penalty flag he got for Christmas. He enjoys his special needs Sunday School class (and the elevator ride he takes to get there). And he delights in giving hugs and affection, sitting on Mom and Dad’s laps. When Daddy tickles him and “wrestles” with him, his laughter delights his family as well.
And he’s a speed demon, always wanting his horse to go faster. Amy, his therapist, has had to change his horse because he needed more horsepower.
Kyle’s progress is exciting. His continued hippotherapy is an essential part of his ability to make gains with verbal, mental, and musculoskeletal skills.
Your support helps Kyle move forward, be it with the great speed that Kyle loves to ride or in smaller increments. You plan an important role as you continue to support Kyle and all our Jacob’s Fund kids.
We’d love to hear your ideas on how we can work together to reach more people like you, who support children with disabilities through hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. Just click the Comment button and give us your ideas.
It’s hot this Tuesday afternoon in Port-au-Prince when our driver, Jonas, picks Jaden and me up for the drive to Bercy, some sixteen miles to the northwest. But then again, it’s always hot in Haiti.
Bercy is Wes’ home. This is our first meeting with the sweet-faced eighteen-month-old we’ve only seen in photos. It’s important for The Red Thread that this meeting goes well, not just with Wes, but also with her teenage mom. While our immediate goal is to get Wes clubfoot surgeries on both of her little feet, our ongoing goal is to establish a long-term relationship with this little girl and her mother.
Wes will need care and follow-up after her surgeries for the best possible outcome. This is The Red Thread’s way. We make every effort to meet and build a relationship with parents or caregivers of the children we help so we can better understand the child’s needs and meet them as a team. Each little one is precious to us, just like our own children, and we seek the best possible care for them.
In return, all we ask for is the parent or caregiver’s consent to treatment, open communication throughout the process, and the family’s active participation in the child’s care.
As we turn onto National Route 1, we are amazed at how quickly the urban concrete cityscape of Port-au-Prince slips away, revealing open spaces and banana, palm, and beautiful flowering trees. Goats, rams, and the occasional cow or donkey dot the landscape around us. We drive through Canaan, an area that formerly housed a mountainside of tents housing displace people following the earthquake.
Passing through several small villages we get our first glimpses of the Haitian coast and the stunning blue waters beyond, places that would surely lure tourists if it were not for the surrounding poverty. Addresses are not always easy to find in Haiti, but after carefully searching, we find the driveway for CPR-3, turn down the dirt road and into the compound. Here, we’re warmly greeted by Amanda, one of the CPR-3 team coordinators, holding her infant daughter.
After a brief tour of the facility, Amanda and I get to the heart of the matter while we wait for Wes and her mother, Nadine, to arrive: what are our two organizations—The Red Thread Promise and CPR-3—going to do for little Wes? What will our intervention on her behalf look like? How will this partnership work to afford this child full use of her feet? How will the expenses—$4,000 for both feet to be repaired—be covered?
Soon Nadine arrives with little Wes in her arms. This little one is just as adorable in person as she is in the photos we’ve seen! Sweet eyes, chubby cheeks, and a tiny tongue that likes to peek out from between her lips makes Wes extra huggable! Nadine, on the other hand, is apprehensive and reserved, donning the typical emotionally-barren face so common among Haitians when dealing with strangers.
So we do what we do best - we begin to build a relationship with Nadine. As I ask questions and get to know Nadine, Jonas and Amanda gently put the young mother at ease. Before long, Nadine begins to share bits and pieces of her personal life: Wes’s near drowning, her current living situation (bouncing from family member to family member), Wes’s absent father, and Nadine’s own concerns about her daughter’s development. We listen and, in turn, share our hearts for the betterment of this young family.
I stress how much we care about both MOTHER and her child - our intervention is to help this young family as a unit, not just Wes, so they can both thrive in their own country. If Wes’s feet are corrected, it will lift a burden off both Nadine (as caregiver) and Wes as a community member. I explain that our goal is to help Wes develop into an independent child, capable of eventually living on her own. If we are able to correct her feet so she can walk normally, her future will be vastly improved, allowing her mobility that she may not otherwise have. I tell Nadine that we want her active involvement in her daughter’s care; that she will not be a bystander, but rather a partner in all appointments, surgeries, follow ups and physical therapy. And I encourage her to stay close to CPR-3 as they are her main support system on the ground.
Nadine listens attentively, answering all of my questions, and even agrees to take us to the home where she is living, with her aunt and many cousins. When we approach the small cinderblock home, her family brings out the few mismatched chairs they have so we can be comfortable. We settle into this warm display of hospitality, playing with the children and talking.
We are so grateful for our meeting with Nadine and for the opportunity to be a part of Wes’s care. We are also thankful for the opportunity to partner with CPR-3 in meeting this young family’s medical and spiritual needs.
Wes’s 1st surgery is scheduled for January 2015. Her single biggest need at this time is to raise $2,000 for her first club foot repair. Dr. Bheki Khumalo (West TN Haiti Partnership) has graciously committed to performing the surgery FREE OF CHARGE! However, The Red Thread Promise must cover fees for her pre-op tests, anesthesia, the rental of a sterile surgical suite, the nursing and surgical staff, and Wes’s follow up care that are unavoidable.
We can change Wes’ life now and create a future in which she can live independently and care for herself; this is doable. Think of it: if a single church with a congregation of 2,000 people each gave $2, BOTH of Wes’s feet could be repaired, changing the course of this child’s life forever.
CPR-3 and The Red Thread Promise need your help today to proceed with Wes’s treatment plan. So far, $300 of the $2000 needed for her first clubfoot surgery has been raised for her care. We need to secure the remaining $1700 by December 31, 2014 to ensure that Wes can receive this life-changing surgery in January.
Now is the time to show Wes that we really do care. Donations in her name can be made through this project on GlobalGiving. THANK YOU to everyone who has supported our work thus far. We hope you'll continue with your donation toward Wes's surgery.
As I write this, it’s just days before Thanksgiving. Our team of 11 has just returned from eight days in Haiti at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. This Thursday in the US, we’ll sit down to a table groaning with more food than we can possibly eat, a rich bounty of flavors shared among family.
Yet my heartstrings continue to be tugged by the children we saw last week at St. Vincent’s.
We had arrived to welcoming greetings in sign language, Kreyol, English and a multitude of hugs. Our team is well known to these children and the staff who care for them. We’ve made countless trips here to help these special kids who are blind, deaf, missing limbs, unable to walk, some unable to even hold up their own head. With these smallest of gestures, these gentle little ones healed our hearts that had been broken for them time and time again.
The purpose of our visit last week was to conduct both a medical and dental clinic, which we completed during the course of our stay. However, as always, our favorite moments were spent talking, playing, singing, dancing, and creating art with the kids. We love them like our own—they are extensions of our family.
But when mealtime came, our healed hearts broke all over again. While the food situation has improved slightly, it is still abysmal compared to what it should be. Some mornings, they receive a bit of bread and butter or some gruel. Thankfully, every day around 3:00 p.m. everyone receives a bowl of beans and rice. These photos were taken on Sunday, the day where they get a tomato-based sauce to go over the meal and even a morsel of meat.
At first the kitchen staff was apprehensive about us taking photos. Their frowns turned to welcoming smiles when they realized that we were there to HELP bring awareness to their plight, their need, their hunger – and that our desire for that awareness is based on love, not pity.
Like many others, The Red Thread Promise emphasizes thankfulness this week, and we are so thankful for all of the support we have received via your gifts through Global Giving. What we need now is to ensure that the children of St. Vincent’s get 3 meals a day. The meal of beans and rice they are getting now will keep them from starving; nothing more.
The cost for three meals a day is just $2.25 per child. As we approach this season of overabundance and joy in giving, we know that we can do this, that you can do this.
For food for the future, The Red Thread Promise has become part of a project to bring both aeroponic and aquaponic gardening to St. Vincent’s. We estimate that this project will begin in 2015 and help set the groundwork for St. Vincent’s to become self-sufficient. In the meantime, we need to continue to feed the children. Your gifts make this possible. Thank you for everything you are able to share with these children.