The last two weeks of March I travelled for the 6th time to Zambia,
With the container already on his way, several e-mails were exchanged between different organizations to organize the arrival of the container containing 166 special wheelchairs for children. Communicating with association such as:
•Inger a Norwegian physical therapist who works in Lusaka and does several volunteer jobs for the Archie Hinchcliffe Disability intervention in Lusaka as well as Ms Gertrude Kapulisa the head of this organisation
•Regina an Italian paediatric physical therapist with a lot of experience in several African countries who works at the Beit Cure Hospital in Lusaka.
•And the director of Beit Cure Hospital in Lusaka, Steve.
•Simonetta and Enrico from the Italian Organisation ACRA Zambia in Chipata.
•Nathalie from Project Luangwa in Mfuwe region.
As I never met personally with most of the persons mentioned above, this trip had the aim to try to meet most of them during the short two-week visit.
I stayed at the Kasisi Children’s home where I assessed all children who I already knew, as well as other several children in the need of physical therapy.
I was happy to see that the therapy mummy’s did a good job and that the weekly visits had a very positive effect on the children. The goal was to update the therapy programs for all children and to teach the mummy’s to continue and keep this program going. During the last visit in 2017 we introduced several changes for the youngest special children some of the them including: the sleeping position, the eating position and a 20 minutes’ upright rest after eating. To fully understand the importance of a correct eating position, I organised a practical session with the mummy’s. Where they tried to feed each other a banana and to drink lying on their backs: this was an eye-opening experience for them.
At the end of my first week there I met up with Inger, following the morning therapy at Kasisi I accompanied her during her volunteer tasks in the Lusaka region. We went to a nearby compound where local volunteers run a school for orphans and disadvantaged children. They sit outside on wooden benches for their classes, two groups at a time, with their backs to each other and a teacher on each side. Further, Inger helps the teachers with the gymnastics lesson as more than 90 children age between 7 and 17 participate. We went to a big open space at the centre of the compounds where several other public schools would have gymnastics class at the same moment. As the group was very big and the age difference and physical capacity is quite variable this was a challenge and quite a difficult task, but 3 balls and several games later everybody moved and ran a lot and had a lot of fun.
The next morning, I visited Cephas, a boy living near Kasisi, who over a year ago got one of our wheelchairs. Ever since the wheelchair, his friends help him to get to school, play with him and now he is thus able to participate with everything they do. Due to the much use he got, and still get out of the wheelchair, the chair is fairly worn out such as tires and brakes being particularly used up. He really needs a new chair.
Afterward I met again with Inger at the small Hospital in another compound. Here, several mothers and one father come together with their children having different disabilities, for a weekly therapy session. The therapy is done on a carpet where everybody sits on together, and in turns, the physical therapist and a volunteer take one of the children and show the parents what therapy to do at home to help the development of their child in an optimal manner.
A few days later, I met Regina and Inger to discuss the arrival of the container holding the 166 wheelchairs and the further organization of their distribution as well as the correct enablement and fitting of the chairs for each child. In addition, I also met with the director of the Beit Cure Hospital, part of an American based organisation which performs free surgery, when needed for children under the age of 18 years, with physical problems.
An agreement was found between the organizations on where to store the container with the wheelchairs and the further logistics concerning the distribution. This was a very important and critical step for the success of the project.
Short before my departure I also met with Mrs Gertrude Kapulisa from the Archie Hinchcliffe Disability Intervention in Lusaka who visited me at the Kasisi Children’s Home. And as I was waiting at the Lusaka Airport for my departure I was lucky enough to encounter Enrico from the Italian organization, ACRA zambia, who recognised me from photos.
With all the meetings and things achieved in a short two-week trip, my visit to Zambia was really successful and gave me the assurance that we found valuable partners for Blu Springs’ biggest project yet.