Surprises are so much fun!
Little did we know that the silken red thread of destiny would surprise our team by re-connecting us with a beautiful little girl that we had supported during her foster care in China. Little DXX—who isn't so little anymore—is now settled in with a loving family in the United States who affectionately calls her Charlet.
What's more? Charlet is sister to Laila, the little one that we recently helped get a micro-wheelchair (see our last report!) Coincidence? We think not! It's just that red thread doing it's business in our lives.
Here's an update on Charlet from her mom, Joslynn. We couldn't be happier that she is with this amazing family and growing up quickly.
Since bringing her home in December of 2013, we have watched Charlet blossom into a happy-go-lucky, spunky little girl. Charlet has been through many “base-line” tests to mark her medical status and the doctors have been amazed at her health and mobility as a child who suffers from spina bifida. When we tell the doctors of her spine and shunt placement surgery at one month old, they are speechless to explain how she could have survived, as most doctors in the U.S. do these two surgeries separately and at an age much more than one month. There are many things medically that “should” be wrong with Charlet, but they just simply don’t exist. She attends physical therapy once a week to strengthen her body and to help her walk. When we brought her home at 2 years old, she could “cruise” but not walk and she could not stand for long periods. Charlet also recently received braces for her legs to help straighten her gait and keep her joints safe from improper movement. She is now walking independently and her strength and endurance are improving everyday.
Our greatest efforts for Charlet have been emotional. Charlet was abandoned at one day old, and though she was in a very loving group foster home, she has simply never experienced bonding with a mother and an unchanging family. She quickly accepted Jason as her big Papa Bear. She loves to cuddle with him and be carried around everywhere. You don’t realize when you adopt the things you will have to “teach” this child that simply come as a natural part of development when you are raising your biological children. We had to teach Charlet how to enjoy and not fear play, especially outdoors. Grass and swings were things of great torment in her early months, but it is such a sweet sound to hear her adorable belly laugh now as she swings. When indoors, and if left to her own devices, for many months she would simply sit and stare at us as we moved around a room, with no idea how to “play” by herself. She required our engagement, and even then, she often didn’t know how to interact. Charlet actually really enjoys her solitary time now and I love watching her sing and play with her dolls peacefully with no fear or painful stares in my direction.
Charlet loves her big sister, Laila (3.5), and her really big brother, Steven (14). Laila and Charlet were adopted on the same day and they bonded quickly. They easily fall into their respective big sister/little sister roles. Charlet is a wonderful helper to her immobile big sister, often bringing her toys or helping her get things that are too heavy. Charlet and Laila are the predictably ornery little sisters who love to bug their big brother. But there is nothing more beautiful than seeing all three of my children cuddling on the couch or playing together on the floor. Charlet’s addition to our family has been an amazing blessing. Her early transition has been quite difficult for our whole family, but she is finally settling in, trusting the family she has been given, and knowing that we are hers forever!Thank you for your support of sisters Charlet and Laila!
Connections… a vital word in the 11 year history of The Red Thread Promise (TRTP); the same word that will carry us forward into 2015. Our name fulfills a Chinese proverb, one that speaks of a silken red thread of destiny connecting every person who will be part of our lives from birth. We have evidence that the red thread does more than just connect us; it brings us close when the time is right, binding us together, evoking a responsibility to the health and well-being of others to which we respond together. This is again one of those times where we need your help to meet the needs of one child - one precious soul in Haiti.Through a web of networking among friends and strangers too complex to explain in a few words, we find ourselves looking into the eyes of a spunky Haitian toddler named Westhalineda. Stephanie, from CPR-3 (another amazing group working in Haiti), knocked on TRTP’s doors asking for help for little Wes. Of course, we opened the door and said yes.Stephanie recalls seeing Wes—our nickname for her—for the first time, lying in a washbasin at the tender age of 3 months. Wes and her young mother, Nadine, were to be Stephanie’s new neighbors in Bercy, Haiti. Over time, an unbreakable bond between Nadia, Wes and Stephanie developed and Stephanie has the privilege of witnessing this young mother’s transformation from hardened unwed teenager to loving doting mother.Wes is just eighteen months old, has a smile that goes as high as can be on her little cheeks, and whose face lights up with laughter when you interact with her. That charming smile belies the fact that she suffers in silence from club foot and the developmental delays it is causing according to our partner and club foot specialist, Dr. Bheki Khumalo.Born to a teenage mom in rural Haiti outside of Port-au-Prince, Wes appeared doomed to a life of hardship and perhaps little love. Her mother, Nadine—alone in the world since her mother died during childbirth and her father’s subsequent abandonment—was chided by her community for not being able to provide for her daughter. Early on, Stephanie recalls Nadine joking about throwing her daughter away. Life had hardened the young mom, leaving her with a flippant, defensive attitude.Soon, with Stephanie’s mentoring and persistent modeling of unconditional love, the barriers between mother and daughter broke down. Now, Nadine is her daughter’s fierce protector, head-over-heels in love with her child. This radical transformation over the past year and a half has clearly softened her heart. It is Nadine's persistence in seeking care for her baby girl that led her to Stephanie at CPR-3 for help; Stephanie to TRTP to utilize our experience treating children with disabilities; TRTP to Dr. Bheki for diagnosis and, a sound treatment plan; and finally TRTP to you to provide financial support for Wes’s surgery and care.Growing up in Haiti’s animistic culture—meaning that the physical and spiritual world are believed to be interacting—Wes will likely face challenges that others will not. Culturally, a disability is often regarded as punishment or a mark from the spiritual world. This wide-spread belief leads to misunderstanding, isolation, neglect and even abuse of people with disabilities. By treating Wes’s condition, we will not only change her physical life, giving her the opportunity to walk normally, but also give her a solid place in her own society, free of stigma. After an initial assessment, Dr. Bheki has determined that surgery is the best course of action. The prognosis for Wes is good due to her age and the amount of cartilage Dr. Bheki has to work with during the procedures. But changing Wes’s future comes with a price tag. While Dr. Bheki is donating all of his time and years of skills to perform her surgery, there is pre-surgical lab work, rental of a sterile surgical suite, anesthesia and follow-up care that need to be addressed before she is able to have the procedures. The cost for each foot to be corrected is $2,000 for a total of $4,000. Wes is slated for surgery in January 2015 during Dr. Bheki’s next trip to Haiti. The time is now to show Wes that we really do care. Donations from this project will pay for her surgery and post-op care. With your support, we can change the course of this little girl’s life forever.As we dream about Wes’ future, our sense of responsibility grows; our lives and stories become intertwined. With a loving mother, CPR-3 just down the street where American neighbors are willing to advocate for her, and Dr. Bheki working with The Red Thread Promise to provide the surgeries needed to give her a disability-free life, we see a much brighter future for Wes. YOU can be an active part of her life. Thank you for anything you are able to give!
The Red Thread’s mission experiences are about work. This weekend‘s Jacob’s Fund trip is no different; our muscles clearly tell us we’re doing that, and it’s satisfying. But our joy is meeting with the children we support and their families.
When Melissa and Russell arrive with Landon and Cameron, we pull off our work gloves and make a beeline for them.The twins are taller, their toddler faces changing to little boy features, but they are still virtually indistinguishable to us at first. We rely on the difference in their shirt patterns to help us for a few minutes, but soon we get their names right almost every time.
Besides, Landon is wearing BIG headphones. Disney tunes, maybe?
Melissa enlightens us. Landon’s started a new therapy: Therapeutic Listening. We’re unfamiliar with this therapeutic approach, so she and Landon’s therapist explain the therapy and what it can do for children with sensory integration difficulties.
Therapeutic Listening helps kids who have difficulty with sensory processing dysfunction, listening, attention, and communication.
Since the auditory system has connections to many parts of the brain, sound is a powerful way to access the nervous system and affect changes at all levels. The music in Therapeutic Listening albums gives the child unique and precisely controlled sensory information. The music is e3lectronically modified to highlight the parts of the sound spectrum that naturally trigger attention and activate body movement.
Landon listens to specifically recorded and enhanced music through his headphones both at McKenna Farms and at home. His music program was designed by his therapist for his unique needs. Therapeutic listening stimulates not only the auditory system but the entire brain. The main idea is to integrate the auditory and vestibular systems. Children using this listening program are often compelled to move and explore the environment in new ways because the benefits of Listening Therapy include improved:
. alertness, attention, and focus . receptive and expressive language, including articulation . balance and motor planning . affect and emotional responsivity . self-motivation . awareness of the environment . postural security . spatial awareness . initiation of play behavior . initiation of verbal interaction . stability
Landon does indeed listen to music, but it is music that has been custom designed and enhanced for him. The design is based on clues Landon gives his therapist. From there, she works out the program he needs. The headphones and CD player have special features.
And who knew that we listen not only with our ears, but with our whole body? Upon reflection, that makes perfect sense.
Just before Landon joins his therapist for more of this mind-bending therapy, Melissa offers us the headphones. We hear music, of course, and we recognize some of the pieces, but there are points of emphasis and enhancement. We return to our work amazed at the array of therapy tools and methods that the staff at McKenna Farms employs to help these children experience their lives and their world more fully.
We’re grateful to have a partner so dedicated. And we are grateful to our Global Giving donors who support our efforts to make these therapies available to more children.