Lydia and Sarah - long-term children at the STPC
PAST REFLECTIONS / FUTURE HOPES
It has been a time of change tumult for the children at the Sally Test Pædiatric Centre. The Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital (S4A) was opened at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, August, 2015. Children were gradually moved from the old spaces to the new hospital; however, we still maintain our wonderful Sally Test room where abandoned toddlers and older children come either by ambulance or foot across campus daily to be loved and cared for.
Lydia and Sarah are still a part of our abandoned child family unplaced after five hospitalized years. They are maturing nicely. Lydia is busily working on gaining math skills. We combine signs, cards, and a wide variety of means as we attempt to break through her inability to speak. Sarah is growing in social skills.
Before Christmas doctors employed in government hospitals have been on strike protesting their failure to receive a single shilling of a raise promised three years ago. The shutdown of physician service continues into its second month with dire effects. Thankfully, the nurses and Clinical Officers are doing their best to care for patients who cannot delay hospitalization.
With the move to the new hospital, infants that used to come to us are kept in the Riley Mother Baby Hospital until they are placed in homes by the Children’s Welfare Society. Our Child Life Specialists (CLSes) spend time with these tiny people to make sure they are unaware they have been abandoned. The CLSes also conduct education sessions for new mothers to help them cope with their new role as a parent.
Malnourished children and abandoned toddlers are also brought to the Sally Test Centre. The Social Work Department has been vigilant in find placement for these children. During the Doctor Strike and the holidays, many of these children have not come to the hospital. We are anxious for the government and doctors to find a solution to their disagreement soon so we can return to screening and helping unwanted children experience loving concern as they wait for placement.
Older children, for whom many of the activities that take place in our smaller play rooms may seem too juvenile, also walk from the new facility to the Sally Test Centre where we involve them as pre-teens and teens. At times they also interact with our abandoned children as teachers and models and even caring “siblings”.
During December our most of our playground was moved from the old facility to the S4A area after funds from the Purdue School of Pharmacy helped us level the ground to make running and playing possible. Like so many things, December is the beginning of the DRY season so we have not planted grass in the play area. Unsurprisingly, crab grass is stealthily making inroads on to the edges of the area. We will soon have the playground equipment anchored in cement so children can run and play.
We have no chimneys for Santa to slide down; however, December was filled with Christmas cheer as patients and parents celebrated with 1500 cupcakes and almost 800 gifts that included beanie babies along with sweets and essential toiletries. Carols and “Ho-Ho-Ho”s filled the wards bringing smiles to children confined to the hospital, our Outreach Clinics, and the Amani Shelter.
January 7th there was a ground breaking ceremony with Toby Tanser, who donated the S4A Hospital, to renovate a space closer to the S4A Children’s Hospital for our library and an indoor recreation area. We look forward to the time when the Stephanie Brater Children’s Library and care of abandoned children can move closer to the hospital’s pædiatric area.
2017 will be a year of growth and enthusiasm for all of us. We appreciate and thank you for your continuing interest and participation in helping young Kenyan children grow joyfully!
Evolving playground - moved previous site
Potential Playrooms from S4A Hospital ramp
GG - Santa &Peter at Amani Shelter