Recently at Anchor Home we have seen some really great progress in some of the kids! It seems like the kids go in spurts. I will do the same thing over and over again for months and get the same blank stares. And then one day it all clicks and they finally start to make some progress!
Right now our main time for school based activities is in the mornings. We start off with circle time at 10 where every child gets the chance to choose their picture, put it on the board, and then we sing to them. Our song goes a bit like this “Look who came to school today, school today, school today, look who came to school today, (child’s name) did!” At first it was just me singing it but after so many months of repetition some of the kids and the caregivers will sing along to! For our kids with visual impairments there is a texture on their picture card that signals to them which one belongs to them and for Cara, Julie, and Caden they now have to choose which letter their name starts with out of three felt letters and then choose their photo. When I first introduced this activity in July all the kids needed hand over hand assistance but now they are much better at identifying themselves and really enjoy seeing everyones photos!
After everyone is welcomed we sing preschool songs! We have a bank of songs that the kids know and I usually give them a choice between 2 songs. The favorites come and go in waves but right now our favorites are wheels on the bus, slippery fish, itsy bitsy spider, where is thumbkin, and row row row your boat. Cara, Caden, and Julie know all the hand motions to the songs and Abe, Josie, and Emerald are working on learning them! I’m not exactly known for my singing voice but after each and every song the kids clap which is a good self esteem boaster! Typically after singing several songs we read a book. All of the kids really enjoy books and like to touch the pages of the book as we read them. Sometimes Abe gets a bit of of control and knocks the book out of my hand with his enthusiastic touching!
After reading we typically do a big group activity. I try to switch it up so its a bit different everyday but we rotate through several of the same activities. A crowd favorite is parachute games! The kids love playing with the parachute and we work in counting to three, identifying colors, and listening while we play. We’ve also recently introduced hot potato which gets intense not so much with the kids but with the caregivers. They want the child they are helping to win and they get cutthroat sometimes! We also will get out of box of instruments and play them to music, each take a turn putting on a part of Mr. Potato Head’s body parts, and identifying different toy animals and their sounds. We try to get a bit creative during this time while also trying to accommodate everyone’s different needs! We finish our circle time every day with calendar time where we put up the date, sing our day of the week song, and talk about the weather.
After circle time wraps up the kids start their various activities. Thomas, Valor, Katherine, Sarita, Emerald, and Shiloh all have a giant tummy time party while Julie goes to her preschool class with our teacher Hanna. Josie, Cara, Caden, and Abe all have free play time where they choose between activities such as blocks, sensory play with rice or water beads, book, or another activity. Penny usually works with me during this time on her communication and other skills. At around 11:15 we take a break for snack time!
After snack Caden and Cara go to their preschool class and then at 12 Thomas, Valar, Katherine, Penny, and Sarita go outside to attend class with their special education teacher. I usually take Shiloh and Emerald during this time and work on some baby play skills such as reaching, sitting up, reading books, and singing songs. Then at 12:15 Josie and Abe go to class and I usually set up an activity for Caden, Cara, and Julie to do at the table. At around 12:45 we start transitioning to cleaning everything up and eating lunch! Our mornings are very busy but with this current schedule we have seen some great gains in the kids.
- Emerald has learned to sit up and is starting to clap her hands and babble more!
- Julie can identify what letter her name starts with and knows everyone names. She used to call everyone “Amma” but recently she has started calling the kids and staff by their names
- Cara is counting up to 5, knows her animal sounds, can identify what letter her name starts with, and is starting to work more on her shapes and colors
- Josie is starting to talk more and is starting to learn her animal noises. She also loves to do the motions to songs during circle time.
- Caden is counting up to 3 and knows some of his colors. He’s also able to identify the letter his name starts with and singing along with most of our circle time songs.
- Penny finally mastered the ring stacker and is working hard on using her picture communication. We’ve seen her become more consistent with her communication over the past couple of months!
- Valor is working on using his two sided switch during his classes with good success. Right now he’s still working on “more” and “stop”.
- Abe is sitting and attending to activities for several minutes at a time which is huge for our little busy body! He’s also counting up to 3.
Here at SCH we believe in the power of education. Education is such a privilege and we are blessed to have access to some really great resources but here and abroad. For the 12 kids in my house they are only able to be served by education in the home for several reasons. First off its hard to find schools that will accept our children with more severe needs. There is no law that mandates equal access to education for children with disabilities. Second many of the kids from a medical standpoint that can’t attend school at the moment. With their unique set of needs its hard for many of them to attend school even if they could serve their special needs. Also it makes more sense for our budget if we just hire one teacher that can come to us as opposed to having to pay school fees separately for all the kids! I’m currently spread too thin to meet all the needs of the kids so we were able to find a new teacher who will start tomorrow! We’re excited about the chance to get to train her and teach her how to work with our kids. But we need to bring in the funds to help pay her salary. The incoming teacher’s salary will be $140/month or $2,000 for the whole year. We are searching for monthly sponsors or one time donations to help us provide for this need. Education is one of the most powerful tools we can give these kids, can you join us and help give the kids at Anchor a better education? Use the link below to help us educate our kids!
Also we are looking to partner with schools and teachers. If you or someone you know might be interested please let me know and we can chat. We would love to communicate with other classrooms all around the world and teach each other!
Yesterday afternoon a new child came to Anchor Home! It was an exciting yet heavy day. It’s been almost a year since we have received a new child and we are so excited that baby S is here!
On Monday Brittany and I visited another orphanage where we have received most of our other children from. We don’t go often as we have many children already in our care who need most of our time and attention but we still like to visit every now and then to check on the kids and get some baby snuggles in! We started off snuggling babies but halfway through the visit we went to the room that has the special needs children. When we went in I scanned the room like I usually do and noted many familiar faces. There seemed to more kids then the last time I went and when my eyes stopped on Baby S I knew right away that she was very malnourished and sick. Brittany and I got her details and spent some time with her and the other kids who live in that room. Both of us walked away knowing that we had to at least ask about the possibility of bringing her to SCH.
Back in the spring I met another baby who needed to come to SCH. I knew it in my heart but I didn’t push hard enough and held back due to fear. She passed away before she could come to SCH. I knew with Baby S it had to be different, that I couldn’t see another child in need of specialized care and not speak up. I’m well aware that SCH cannot save every child. The problem is simply too big and we are a bandaid on a gaping hole. (Which is why we are trying to shift and add family empowerment to our scope of services and work on reuniting kids as much as possible) But if I personally see a child that needs help I have to do everything in my power to do something. Even if its scary, even if its one more child to fundraise for, or another child to provide care for. When a child’s life is in danger we are all called to stand up and fight for the rights of the venerable, even when its a scary thing to do.
So on Wednesday we asked our social worker to get permission to transfer Baby S to SCH’s care. And on Thursday in the middle of a conversation with our manager about something else we got the okay to get her that afternoon! Which is a miracle in and of itself as it could have easily taken months or been a no. And on Thursday afternoon she arrived at Anchor Home!
We immediately accessed her medical condition, gave her a bath, and put her in a new dress. All the kids were excited about the new “papa” and wanted to hold her and love her. Julie even burst into tears when I told her she couldn’t hold her until she got a bath! After bath time we dressed her in her new dress and took photos before it was time to eat. Adding a new child to the family is hard on everyone but all the kids seemed to take it in stride and when I looked around at everyone during our evening prayer my heart swelled. These kids love and love even when they have been hurt so much. They’ve welcome in new kids and continue to blow me away with their love and concern!
Today we spent most of the day at doctors or running tests. Baby S is 7 years old. She weighs 10 kgs (22 pounds), has a repaired cleft lip and a cleft palate that was repaired but developed a fistula. We originally thought she had cerebral palsy but our doctor thinks that her delays might be more related to her malnutrition. At the other orphanage there are 5 caregivers to 20 plus kids with special needs. They simply don’t have the time or education to feed a child like Baby S. She needs to be fed sitting up and slowly which simply was not happening. Hence the severe state that she is currently in. At some point this would have mad me angry but it currently just makes me very sad. Moving forward we are trying to slowly reacclimatite her to food while trying to avoid refeeding syndrome. So that basically means we start slow and steady while carefully monitoring her. And of course we have run tons of blood tests and investigations to get a good baseline and rule out any other complications.
We are so glad that we have Baby S in our care! There are several ways that everyone can pitch in and help her transition into Anchor Gold.
- Prayer! We need to cover Baby S in prayer! Her health, her current medical needs, and most importantly that we can reunite her with her family. She was recently relinquished due to a change in her family situation but we are praying for doors to open and the possibility of reuniting her if it is a safe situation for everyone involved!
- Becoming a monthly sponsor! Baby S needs $300/month to cover her daily needs. Sponsorship starts as low as $15/month! This includes a loving caregiver, nutritious food, medicine, doctors visits, and a safe home. If you sign up to become her month sponsor we will let you give us a name to choose for her online name! Online names follow children throughout their entire time at SCH (and in one case became their middle name when they were adopted!) and are very important. Sponsors receive 4 updates a year and are able to watch their sponsor child grow and thrive! Click Here to Sponsor S
- Donating to her one-time needs. New kids are expensive. There’s no way around that. We have to do many tests and doctors visits that cost money. Donating to her one-time needs will also allow you to suggest a name for Baby S. Click Here to Donate
- Buy items off Amazon! Most of the items have already been purchased but there are a few left. Amazon Wishlist
And as per usual even if you cannot give you can share and tell Baby S story. The best way to get people involved is to share and help make others fall in love with our sweet kids and adults here!