Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children

by Special Families Saint Julie Billiart (Familias Especiales Santa Julia Billiart)
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children
Provide HorseTHERAPY to 50 Nicaraguan Children

  Tuesdays are designated as special education days in our horse therapy sessions. Our special education assistant, Walter, who is blind, has motivated the mothers to become more involved in their children's therapy. On that day, the mothers take turns helping Gustavo guide the horses and learn more about the therapy. Walter works with them as they await their turn for therapy, sharing their stories of having a child with a handicap. We have found that this intervention has created a greater interest in the mothers giving them more poise in their interactions. They have developed a great respect and confidence in Walter as he helps them share more about their children's therapy. "Walter calls these sessions "horse grazing." Because it is as if the mothers are enjoying the quiet time to share and graze with each other.
Special Families have hired an additional physical therapist to help more children. The number of children who need therapy has increased with many first-time cases.
Darling, our other physical therapist, has been on maternity leave. The new therapist is the former head of physical therapy from the regional hospital.
She is excited about working in the community model instead of the medical model, which she led in the hospital setting. She is a highly skilled therapist with much experience and a deep love of helping others in rehabilitation. "Actually, this allows me to get to know the children and their mothers and to find new ways to help them reach their goals together. I like trying to get the mothers to help one another out and to find how much they have in common as they work with their children." This was never possible when she worked the medical model. She was Gustavo's boss when he started his first job, which was at the hospital. And now she is working alongside him to organize our annual Mother's Therapy Assembly. The assembly accomplishes three goals: 1. Recognition of therapy goals for each child and mother. 2. Create unity between mothers as they accompany their children with their therapy.
3. A forum for mothers and children to share their therapy experiences and give ideas for the future. The assemblies always create a lot of motivation and excitement. This year they are working on new ways to keep the COVID distancing and generate a learning atmosphere using more videos and doing more individual work with the mothers ahead of time. We are hopeful that this will create unity among the families. The majority are women heads of households. "They are becoming more interested in hearing each other's story. Since each child has different disabilities and reasons for being in horse therapy, it becomes fascinating," said Martha, the new therapist.
This is the last month of the Dry Season in Nicaragua, which is essential for horse therapy. We are trying to take advantage of this time. When the rains start, there are times that we cannot continue the horse therapy outside since we do not have a sheltered area. However, we have to move the therapy from the vast field to a well-conditioned front entrance to the Farm. The reason is that the field begins to become soggy and, at times, flooded during the rainy season.
We have a special ramp to help children mount the horses and continue their therapy in rain or shine.
The staff of integrated therapy wants to thank you for your support as they continue in these times of COVID.
Their prayers are with you in gratitude for the opportunities you give them to serve these children to reach their health and well-being goals.

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The horses helping Special Families are on Christmas vacation. So I thought it an excellent time to give you all an update on Horse Therapy in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. This year even with the pandemic, children have made great strides in their therapy. Some children have increased their neck muscles' strength to lift their heads, some have straightened their legs to walk, some have gained more confidence from the horses. Our titled therapist, Gustavo, continues to work with over 50 children whose development and motivation are vital to improving their health.
Relaxation is a side benefit of horse therapy, adding to the scientific therapeutic work. The therapist can activate the muscles unreachable in physical therapy and use the horse's natural movements, so horse anatomy is essential. Our children have found their balance improving as they strengthen muscles, posture, and flexibility by riding and receiving activities directed by Gustavo. The two horses' roles are vital in motivation during therapy to make self-esteem and personal confidence grow.       The now relaxed mothers who join the weekly therapy sessions also benefit. They learn about their children's disABILITIES and how they can continue the benefits while at home. During the pandemic, the horses were running. Still, the children were at home for several months, and the mothers were busy trying to keep their children moving. Gustavo was in contact by phone and social media. Exchanging pictures and holding the hope alive of returning to therapy. During this time, the maintenance crew improved the equipment used, including building a new ramp.
      Gustavo also used the time to brush up on his techniques and work with the horses on his farm. The return to therapy meant using masks and other sanitary precautions while relating to the other children and mothers. Mask-wearing often caused anxiety for the children, so they often removed them safely. We have not had any of the children or mothers contract COVID, thank God. 2020 was a challenging year, but the therapy that happened was vital and appreciated and gave the children the strength to keep on going and not lose hope.
      The love for horse therapy grew this year, and we know that your support makes a difference. The children intend to keep on riding and are grateful for this opportunity to offer horse therapy to families who otherwise would just be sitting at home. Special Families' goal is to find and open opportunities for people with disABILITIES to get out of their homes and improve their lives. Thank you for being with us on this mission.

Child waiting on new ramp for his turn  for riding
Child waiting on new ramp for his turn for riding
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horse therapy before quarentine looking back
horse therapy before quarentine looking back

Wow, the very air is filled with excitement, as Horse Therapy opens, after five months of quarantine. The therapist and new assistant are bringing the children to the farm for the first sessions, as nature greets them with sunshine, fresh air, and the neighing of the horses. Their equipment is ready: saddles, masks, and shields are all in place. Mothers and children are all set to ride, stretch, strengthen, and grow their muscles.

"We worked with families, by phone and internet to do exercises, but that virtual work doesn’t straighten legs for standing or strengthen neck muscles to lift heads, without the help of the horses, we found many children had lost what they had gained in therapy before the shutdown, “ said Gustavo, the Titled Horse Therapist. Each case is different, but all of the children have lost some muscle control, strength, balance, and flexibility. The long calls on the smartphones to parents did pay off in motivation, keeping the children moving, but there is no comparison to the Horse Therapy they will now receive at Special Families.

The horses went on a regimented diet and exercise program one week before to prepare for the children.  These horses are considered athletes, working with vulnerable, yet happy children. They were sad missing the children, according to the owner, they instinctively know that the children need them. The children also missed the horses, never losing their love of these large animals, even during the quarantine.

A strong hope lives in this large outdoor arena, where these children can quickly regain their muscle tone, strength, and balance relating to nature. The therapist created new goals for each child so that they can regain what they lost.  The horses appear to glide with an agility that they didn’t possess before the shutdown, they make a difference in each child's life, helping them to reach their goals.

The therapist and the assistant are learning how to wear their masks and shields, plus assist the children with theirs, in the heat, so that they can do this therapy safely.  Health precautions are challenging but well worth it, says Gustavo, as he is actively working to give more space and time for each child. Oscar, the assistant, is confident that he can work with the horses to ensure the safety of the children.

Good effective Horse therapy happens through teamwork. The whole team works together for balance, strength, tone, flexibility, and safety. Our team includes the therapist, the assistant, the parents, the horses, the children, as well as you, our supporters.   

Parents are grateful, more aware now of the benefits of working directly with a therapist, after trying to do the exercises alone, at home. They realize that Horse Therapy opens up new possibilities for their children's growth so they can reach their goals.

The organization is grateful that all avoided the virus, during the quarantine, and are continuing precautions, as they improve the livelihood of these families with children with disabilities.

Knowing that you are on our team, makes a difference as we re-open amid this pandemic. It is great to know that we are not alone.

The horses are contentedly gliding, the children are enjoying their ride, the mothers are smiling, the therapist and the assistant are giving their all, in gratitude for this opportunity that your donations made possible. Thank you!

children waiting hipoterpaia before masks
children waiting hipoterpaia before masks
goodbye before masks
goodbye before masks

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Yogurt con Amor Staying Home with Love for Now
Yogurt con Amor Staying Home with Love for Now

Usually workers for Yogurt con Amor (Yogurt with Love) are moving around everywhere in all neighborhoods of Matagalpa promoting nutrition and the health benefits of yogurt plus giving mothers yogurt to help with their recuperating from cancer treatments.  But this is not usual time, “ I just couldn’t think of our promotors going into neighborhoods in and out of houses with this virus spreading “ said the administrator. “We just need to protect our vulnerable population and not spread this disease.”

 As of March 25 we decided to go on lock down to protect our health and those around us a very hard decision when people need nutrition now more than ever.  

The decision was made by the foundation to close as Nicaragua started having cases of Covid19.  FE works with people with disabilities who are more vulnerable to this virus so we could not envision doing anything else. At this time in May the government of Nicaragua has mostly ignored the pandemic and have not order any social distancing or self-protection for their citizens. The country leads in the percentage of deaths : cases ratio in Central America.  This is a sad reality that we have to live with and come through alive. The projected return is now scheduled for June 14 with hopes that we can feel secure to bring nutrition to children again.  Since there is no testing in our country we don’t want to just start up again and infect one another.  It is very hard without any government support.  Everything is an unknown for us but we continue to follow from social media from central American countries and the world Health organization.  That is all we have. 

We had to work quickly with yogurt to get our promoters off the street and notify people to stop any large orders coming in at this time.  There were questions about where we get our milk and also some of our bigger out of the city accounts where supposedly there were cases during this time of closure.  We also set up WhatsApp groups to keep in touch with those families who have access to social media. The small businesses in FE worked together on the closures to ensure that we did not lose products and sharing resources like freezer space and storage.   

As the main goal of Yogurt con Amor is nutrition to the poor, staff were very active in getting out two different times more than 200 packages of basic grains to people we work with in Matagalpa.

We used the delivery of these food packages to educate as we went in trucks with our workers in protective gear not getting out of the trucks but letting each individual enter into the double cabin and receive a small talk about the virus and being able to talk a bit about their experience so far.  We are trying to motivate people to stay in their homes to avoid the virus. This is not our usual style of direct work with the families but because public transportation is so crowded and the food shortage is so great we decided to do it in this manner to help our families when they are getting no help from the government or other social agencies.  We posted a you tube link of an inspirational video that we did about corona virus for our organization, on our you tube channel. We want to be a program to share health benefits not a vehicle for spreading disease unknowingly

Families Especial wants to thank everyone for their support con Amor for Yogurt and to say directly we are not going away we would prefer to be making and eating yogurt.  We are already working on plans on how we will reopen and get yogurt out in a healthy safe way.

We are aware that all over the world countries are at different stages in this virus, this dangerous unknown threat and we continue to keep everyone in the world in our prayers. A small prayer for children:  Dear God be good to me the sea is so wide and my boat is so small.

Lunch program also staying at home for now
Lunch program also staying at home for now
nutrition poster we will be back
nutrition poster we will be back

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Lonely Horses
Lonely Horses

Here we were just starting up with our horse therapy from the summer vacation when it seemed the corona virus pandemic was coming to Nicaragua. We were just starting a new program using painted animals in the therapy loop to motivate the children even more.   As of March 25 we decided to go on lock down to protect our most vulnerable therapy participants.  A very hard decision on one hand because the children look forward to being with their favorite horses and it motivates them to become active.   

The decision was made by the foundation to close as Nicaragua started having cases of Covid19.  FE works with people who are vulnerable and could not envision doing anything else even though still at this time in May the government of Nicaragua has mostly ignored the pandemic and have not order any social distancing or self-protection for their citizens and the country leads in the percentage of deaths and cases ratio in Central America.  This is a sad reality but one that the families who receive therapy have had to live with and come through so they can continue this project. The projected return is now scheduled for June 14 with hopes that we can feel secure to bring children together again.  Since there is no testing in nica we don’t want to just start up again and infect one another.  It is very hard without any government support.  Everything is an unknown for us but we continue to follow from social media from central American countries and the world Health organization.  That is all we have. 

We had to work fast in getting each child with a plan for therapy in their own homes during this time of closure.  We also set up Whatsap groups to keep in touch with those families who have access to social media.  Many live close to one another and can share messages across their neighborhoods.  

 Our therapists live outside of Matagalpa so it became impossible for them to travel and keep in touch directly with the children.  So they have used social media which everyone seems to find an access.  This has been great as they can keep everyone motivated and updated about the latest news and procedures for staying healthy in this time of shutdown for Familias Especiales, hopefully following their home therapy plan.

We have just finished giving out over 200 more food packages as we motivate people to stay in their homes to avoid the virus.  We used the distribution of these packages of food as a way to educate as we went in trucks with our workers in protective gear not getting out of the trucks but letting each individual enter into the double cabin and receive a small talk about the virus and being able to talk a bit about their experience so far.  This is not our usual style of direct work with the families but because public transportation is so crowded and the food shortage is so great we decided to do it in this manner to help our families when they are getting no help from the government or other social agencies.  We posted a you tube link of an educational video that we did about corona virus for our organization.

Families Especial wants to thank everyone for their support of this project and to say directly we are not going away we would prefer to be working and letting the children get the much needed therapy with their favorite horses.  We had to close to protect our health but we are already working on plans on how to best continue our therapy to ensure each child and therapist can enjoy horse therapy once again in a healthy way. We are aware that all over the world countries are at different stages in this virus and we continue to keep everyone in our prayers here.  A small prayer for children.  Dear God be good to me the sea is so wide and my boat is so small.

Just before lock down little boy big horse
Just before lock down little boy big horse

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Project Leader:
rebecca trujillo
Matagalpa, Nicaragua
$17,421 raised of $25,000 goal
 
323 donations
$7,579 to go
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