I recently returned from a trip to Loudi in Hunan province where I visited a unique LWB program in which we are overseeing regular physical therapy intervention for a number of special needs children. This is an excerpt from my trip journal:
The day was nothing short of amazing. Where do I begin??? How about at breakfast where the only thing I recognized on the breakfast buffet was fried rice. I had that and a sticky bun and several other things that I can't name for you, simply because I don't know what they were. No oatmeal or Cheerios here!
After breakfast, we drove out to the countryside to visit the foster home of two of my PT kids, Susie and Shay, both beautiful girls. I had brought a pediatric walker along for Susie to try out. When we arrived, the girls were both outside the home sitting in their baby walkers. They were like a really cute greeting committee in miniature. I said hi to them and hung back a bit while they got used to the sight of me. One was quick to smile; the other slower to warm up. I was anxious to give the walker a try, so we started out with that right away after introductions. The thrill on that little girls face when we took her first few steps was worth the price of the trip to see. Susie's got a lot of practicing to do before she's even close to using that walker on her own, but she did much better than I could have guessed she would do. She got the idea of stepping right away, and was truly delighted when she did it. Fun, fun, fun!
Shay also experienced several exciting events during our visit. She got to try out some brand new leg braces we had brought for her to allow her to practice standing. When she was satisfied that this standing thing was pretty cool, we introduced stepping. Boy was she ecstatic about that. Look at that smile!
We then spent the next bit of time working with the girls and the PT on treatment ideas and showing the foster mom how she can help out between PT visits. She was really receptive to what I suggested and seems to be doing a great job with the kids. Before I left, I had earned great big smiles from both girls. It was a great way to start off the day.
Our next stop was at another rural foster home with many special needs kids in their care. We worked with each one to determine something specific the PT could work on to progress them in their development and improve their condition. This took several hours, I think, and then we were in for a huge treat. The orphanage staff had cooked up a magnificent meal for us right there in the home. We ate in front of the families shrine to their ancestors. The vegetables in the dishes were mainly wild vegetables they went out and picked while we were working with the kids. The bamboo root in one dish was actually pulled from the ground about 20 feet from the front door! Several of the dishes were Loudi specialties. It was truly very special - and quite delicious!
Our last stop was back into the city where the last grouping of children would be seen. They had arranged for the children from the orphanage as well as a couple foster care kids who all live near each other to meet at one home for us to see. One child there is a teen named Hannah receiving PT and tutoring with support from LWB. We talked about what she would like to do when she "grows up." After some discussion, Hannah commented that she could clean well because she was trained in this very early. This will actually probably be perfect for her, so I really encouraged her to continue to keep on working at her exercises so her legs will be strong enough for her to do this to earn a wage. She seemed to like the sound of that. This is Hannah with Yvonne, one of the LWB China staff.
The PT, PT assistant and I talked for a bit longer about ideas for the kids and what I'd like to see them focusing on and working toward, and then we called it a day - a very full day.
I'm certainly not doing the day justice in my recounting of it. The PTs seems so very open to suggestion and instruction, the children were beautiful and amazing, and the orphanage staff expressed such appreciation. Have I mentioned yet how fabulous the day was?
Loudi Tutoring Program Coordinator
Loudi PT Program Assistant
Love Without Boundaries