Friday, February 27, 2009

The end of our time at the Orphanage

This morning was our last time in the Orphanage - no lecture at all, but time for final questions and pictures! The last few days have gone quickly. Torri finished up her portion of the lecture on behavior and play - many of the women really soaked up the behavior information, but are frustrated by lack of progress - especially because of the standards that are imposed on them. The women understand the importance of play, but are unable to focus on it because the emphasis is on developmental progress - difficult with teens who have significant cognitive delays. But Torri was able to be a sounding board for these women and helped to brainstorm many ideas of things they can work on - they seemed to be encouraged by the end of the afternoon.

While Torri was busy working with the behavior kids - Stephanie had a behavior problem of her a grown man, who happens to be in charge of all the therapists. What a disaster! I will say that we had been warned that he searches for ways to argue and dispute anything and everything we say - especially new information. But I was not prepared for what was coming. I was working with a little girl who has hydrocephalus - she is able to roll, but has difficulty sitting on her own. So I was showing the women the importance of building abdominal strength through sitting and transitions. Lets just review what he had to say....
* That the weight of her head may break her neck if we put her in ANY other position than on the floor
* They are unable to work with her leg joints because she does not have proper fluid in the joints since it is all in her head
* She has low hemoglobin levels - they fix this problem by taking her outside where there is more oxygen. However, on rainy, cloudy days there is less oxygen so they let the children play rather than work hard. This is why we are all much more tired on these days as well - not enough oxygen for our bodies.
Those are probably the best of the arguments...but it all went on for almost 45 minutes! For all of you non-science people...all of those points above are totally FALSE!!! I was so frustrated and the worst part, is when I started to discuss with him therapy ideas (ignoring the incorrect information he had stated earlier) - he stood up, walked out of the room and left for the day. Unbelievable!

Although happy hour would have been the perfect ending to this day, instead we decided to culture ourselves by attending a ballet. Not even in the states do I do this...oh well. We saw the ballet "Giselle," not necessarily one I would recommend. Storyline was to say the least crazy. But the theater was beautiful and the orchestra was fun to listen to...Stephanie loved hearing the oboe!

By Thursday we had finished all our prepared material, but by request we put together some last minute lectures on two topics. We taught some basic signs for functional use with kids who are nonverbal - true it was ASL, but as long as they all use it...who cares, right?!? :) The best part was bringing down two kids and teaching them sign in front of all the women. Olishka (the cutie you will see in many of our pics) is so smart! He already has created some signs, but we were able to teach him: more, ball, thank you, shoes, want, all done, and please! All these in just a short amount of time and he even used some of them again today! Elkrin, the second boy who was brought down, is lower functioning and doesn't really use any functional communication. By the end of our time he did demonstrate 2-3 attempts at independently signing "more." It was very exciting not only for us, but also for all the caregivers to see.

The second impromptu lecture was on body mechanics, proper lifting (so hard for them to get) and some exercises for the caregivers to do for their own body. They loved hearing all this information and were shocked by some of the exercises! We provided them with a handout that included 8 exercises - with stick figures and descriptions in Russian. Not to shabby with just a little prep time.

Our cultural experience didn't end with the ballet - Thursday night we went to Tashkent City Bowling! Wow! Torri and I got to wear pink velcro shoes and decided not to wear the socks provided. Apparently learning bowlining in PE really did us good, because I think we were the best bowlers in the entire alley. Stephanie won with a whopping 95!!!

Leaving the orphanage today was definitely bittersweet. We are ready for some true relaxation next week, but were sad to leave the kids and caregivers! The staff was so appreciative of our work - apparently it was one of the first times that a group had taught at their level. So they could really understand and apply the information. We had so much fun teaching them and working with them! Today we were presented with Russian certificates (hopefully we'll find out what they say) along with framed artwork made by the kids! Absolutely beautiful. One last walk through taking lots of pictures and saying goodbye.

This weekend we will tour Tashkent and hopefully do a little shopping. No museums hopefully - we had our fill this afternoon! Our flight leaves Tashkent at 4:20AM on Monday - we have to be there 2 hours early. So not much sleep again for us! We will be flying Turkish airlines from here to Istanbul - so a few extra prayers would be appreciated....for our safety and our nerves! No wonder people clapped when we landed in Tashkent! No internet between now and Istanbul, but we should have wifi and hope to get lots of pictures uploaded! Till then...

Steph & Torri

1 comment:

  1. Well, don't let him get you down, Steph, there are jerks all over the world I guess. The people who work with the kids directly really seem to appreciate what you had for them. That's what matters along with the kids and what they will learn and enjoy.
    Prayers for you on the next leg of your trip.
    When you get to Istanbul, ask at your hotel about a Turkish Massage (at a humam sp?). They are fabulous!!! So relaxing and just what you both need. They separate men from women and only women work on women. It's an ancient art and better than you will ever experience anywhere else.
    Enjoy Istanbul! visit the spice market and the Grand Bazaar. What interesting sights and smells! Love.. Aunt Karen