We send you warm greetings from Naro Moru, Kenya. As we have done over the past few years, we have pleasure in sending you news of our activities for 2011 and in sharing with you the initiatives which, thanks to your precious support, we have implemeted in order to improve the conditions of the lives of so many children. We are here for them! We work tirelessly in order to give them dignity. And you, too, are here with us because- some in one way and some in another – you help us to continue in our mission. We are immensely grateful towards you.
Naro Moru 2011
3rd January 2011. After the December holidays, our Centre opens its doors once again. We begin preparing for the imminent arrival of the children who are in need of surgical operations or of rehabilitation. We are awaiting about 90 children. The operating list was prepared by Dr. Valle and his colleagues last October, after visiting about 370 children. The operations concern various types of orthopedic problems: club foot, flat foot, equinous foot, Knock knee or varus knee, osteomyelitis, consequences of burns, unresolved fractures, osteogenesis imperfecta and other malformations. These are all problems which, if not dealt with, will leave the children handicapped for ever.
5th January 2011. The first group of children and adolescents arrives: no adaptation problems as they all know our home – only homesickness and a few tears when they say goodbye to their relatives. This group of patients needs to continue treatment which began last year.
6th January. This is the day we welcome our new little patients: for all the staff it is a particularly busy day.
10th January. Clinical tests for all the children and adolescents in the Mission’s dispensary. Many tears, but also much love on the part of all those who take care of the children.
12th January. We gather in our big hall to celebrate Mass. We ask God to look after all our little patients. Prayer is an essential part of the African soul and the children like turning to God.
15th January. The surgeons who are to operate on the children arrive in Naro Moru: Professor Frediani, Dr. Porta and Dr. Marciandi. This year Dr. Boero, head of the medical team, cannot participate in the “expedition”, and will keep in contact with us from the Gaslini hospital in Genoa. Our patients are operated on in the Mathari Hospital in Nyeri, where they remain for two days after which they return to our Centre for the post-operative period.
This is the beginning of a very important period for our Centre. We are grateful to Professor Silvano Mastragostino for having begun this “orthopedic camp” in Naro Moru in 1984: his death in 1998 did not put an end to his dream of curing children in Kenya. His dream continues becoming a magnificent reality thanks to our team of doctors.
16th January. The doctors examine the children who will undergo operations. Inevitably there is a certain amount of anxiety. After the check-ups, the doctors and the bigger children meet on the lawn in the middle of our Centre for a game of football. Friendship is born.
The first group of children on the operating list is accompanied to the Mathari Hospital of Nyeri, 50 kms. from Naro Moru.
17th January. Medical visit day for external patients - mostly children, but also adults. We discover cases which could be added to our operating list, particularly if there is need of urgent action, as in the case of osteomyelitis. Today about 100 patients were visited.
18th January. Today the operations of our little patients begin at the Consolata Hospital in Nyeri. As we do each year, we leave Naro Moru at 7a.m. and arrive at the hospital at 8. A physiotherapist from our Centre and the orthopaedic technologist join the doctors. At 8 a second minibus with the children due for operations the following day leaves Naro Moru.
Most days 7 or 8 operations are programmed. At about 5.00 p.m. we go back to Naro Moru.
19th January. The first group of operated children return to the Centre. The trip back is an adventure. The minibus which transports them is lined with cushions in order to limit the difficulties of the trip, given the deplorable conditions of certain stretches of road…
22nd January. The operations continue. These are intense days for our Centre: we try to do our best to answer the needs of the children notwithstanding unforseen events and difficulties. The personnel of the Centre operates with particular dedication and admirable availability.
24th January. The second week begins. Three more surgeons arrive: Dr. Frediani, Dr. Porta and Dr. Marciandi. Dr. Enrico Mantero, infective diseases specialist, follows in particular the cases of osteomyelitis. In this second week we have 6 doctors with us.
29th January. Three surgeons, Professor Frediani, Dr. Porta and Dr. Marciandi end their two weeks of intense activity. Doctors Famà, Pizzetti and Simona remain for the third week of operations.
4th February. Last operations. After their return to Naro Moru, the doctors visit the little patients once again and explain the post-operative programme to the nurses, physiotherapists and the orthopaedic technologist.
5th February. The doctors leave for Italy. Our immense gratitude goes to each one of them, also on behalf of the children and their families. All that they have done for the children of Kenya will not be easily forgotten. The older children will remember them, not only for the green surgicals uniforms in which they saw them in the operating theatre, but also for their extreme humanity and kindness, and for certain unforgettable games of football….The doctors will continue following our patients during the post-operative period thanks to E-mails.
10th February. The post-operative process proceeds as expected. The children are well and don’t loose their liveliness notwithstanding the plaster casts which prevent them from moving around on their own. The sun shines radiantly these days, and the children spend part of the morning on the splendid lawn of our Centre. For those children of school age as far as possible their schooling carries on under the vigilant and encouraging eyes of the assistants.
From time to time the children are visited by classmates or students from the nearby schools.
12th February. A Kenyan physiotherapist has chosen to donate a few months of her time to do volunteer work with our children. Her name is Jane. We are very grateful for her presence amongst us.
19th February. Day of great joy! The children are visited by their parents and relatives. The parents have the chance to meet the Sister in charge, the physiotherapists and the nurses, and to obtain information on the health of their child. We strongly insist on the collaboration of the family in the rehabilitation process of the child. Today about 10 small patients will be discharged. They will be followed up as out patients.
5th March. The first plaster casts are removed. For some patients the programme of physiotherapy begins, for other patients new plaster casts are made.
9th March. Chelsea, a Kenyan girl who is a neighbour, has asked to be able to do a couple of months of volunteer work with our children. She has just finished secondary school and intends applying for the faculty of medecine at University. She is very happy to stay with our children and is interested in our work. After their operations, Chelsea observes how their conditions evolve, with passion.
16th April. Visiting day for the children. The parents are delighted at the progress made after the first period of rehabilitation. Some children have finished their treatment and are ready to be discharged.
The April rains have not yet come. We await them with a certain anxiety. All around us is dry and yellow.
17th March. In collaboration with the Committee which represents the local community we begin the “Strategic Plan” process for the Home. It is a process which will help to determine our work plan for the future and the ways and means with which to implementi it, beginning with an analysis of the present situation. The aim of the Strategic Plan is to improve the quality of the service we furnish, taking heed of the needs of a changing society.
For several months this process involves the staff of the Centre, representatives of the local community of Naro Moru, the institutions and all those who co-operate with us in our programme of rehabilitation. During the process we are guided by a facilitator, who stimulates us to give our very best.
23rd April. Two Dutch physiotherapy students begin a period of internship at our Centre.
15th May. Eva, a girl from Cordenons (Italy) takes her First Communion. She has learned about solidarity towards those less fortunate than herself from her parents and sends a special invitation to her relatives and friends. “Participate in our joy not with gifts, but with your joyful presence and, if you wish, with a thought which will be devolved to the children of the Centre for Rehabilitation of Naro Moru in Kenya.” This gesture of solidarity of Eva’s became reality and enabled us to guarantee the physiotherapy sessions for several children from extremely poor families. Thank you Eva!
16th May. The April rains have still not arrived. The drought is having its effect in many places of Kenya. The price of maize and essential foodstuffs has doubled. Naro Moru is considered a semi-arid zone: the population relies on the April rains (the big rains) and on those of October (the short rains) in order to produce big enough crops to be able to survive. Hard times lie ahead.
10th June. Roberto Cirelli, his wife Paola and little Alessia arrive from Italy. Roberto, a physiotherapist, offers our staff his professional competence and evaluates the rehabilitation process of our little patients. Paola involves the housemothers in acitivities which are formative and rich in creativity. Alessia is perfectly at ease amongst us and becomes extremely popular as the director of the puppet theatre. Our heartfelt thanks to the Cirelli family.
18th June. Our children and adolescents are visited by their families. As has been the tradition for some years, this visiting day is an opportunity of formation for the parents. We organize a round table during which we discuss the theme of rehabilitation in its various aspects. This day also becomes an occasion for joy for all: the children put on a show of dances and songs which fills us up emotionally.
23rd July. Several of our girls and boys participate in a competition for dance and theatre organized by the Diocese of Nyeri by the association “Children helping children”. To our great surprise, “our” participants win the second prize in the classification for our area. The youngsters had prepared a most original kikuyu folk dance. The queen of dance is Betty, a timid girl who, notwithstanding her shyness, is exceptional in her expressive capacities. The spectators and the judges of the competition can but note how skillful she is. What is certain is that no-one notices that Betty is missing a leg and that she is dancing with a prothesis which goes up to above her knee!
25th July. Drought and famine rage above all in the north of Kenya and in Somalia. The situation develops into a humanitarian crisis at an international level. A call is made to Kenyans “Kenyans for Kenya” who donate millions of shillings for their famished fellow-citizens. And yet in these days the newspapers talk of raising the salaries of the Members of Parliament (which are already very high). The drought is a phenomen which has its causes, and that is the damage done to the natural environment by deforestation, which began in the colonial period and which now continues without scruples.
27th July. For many small patients the period of rehabilitation comes to an end. For all a time of holidays at home with their families begins. Some of them will come back to us at the beginning of September.
1st-2nd August. Days of formation for the staff.
9th August. After the drought in the north of Kenya, floods. The water destroys the roads, preventing the emergency vehicles from reaching those waiting for food supplies. The water carried away what little was left to those poor people.
Our Centre closes for the holidays. We take advantage to carry out maintenance work which is necessary in order to maintain a decorous and pleasant environment. A group of five fantastic volunteers from Cassago arrives: Lina, the co-ordinator, Clara, Agostino, Elisabetta and Serena. They stay with us for 2 weeks and their job is to paint all the childrens’ beds blue. Lina acts as “mother”: she prepares the meals and looks after the house where we are lodging them. They are highly organized and don’t waste a minute. During the second week they involve a girl from Naro Moru who also became an expert at painting. We are most grateful to Lina and to the young people for the touch of blue which they gave us and which has made our house more welcoming and attractive.
4th September. Our Centre opens again and welcomes the children so as to give them the possibility of continuing the programme of rehabilitation. There is room for new admissions too.
17th September. During the process of the 5-year programming which continues to keep us busy during these months, a proposal is made for the staff to have a workshop day to create a logo for our Home. We draw, ideas are expressed, we outline the symbols which express most significantly our work with children who are handicapped or with physical disabilities . The result is very interesting, but the most important thing is that the resulting logo is becoming something which belongs to us because it has been created by us.
23rd September. The doctors who will visit the children and prepare the operating list for next January arrive in Naro Moru: Dr. Valle with his wife Enrica and his brother Maurizio, Dr. Emanuela Saccalani, Dr. Beatrice Michelis, Dr Ruggeri. The programme is very full.
24th September. Medical visit for all the children of the Centre.
25th-26th- 27th September. Medical visit for outpatient children and adults. Helen arrives, the first patient of our Centre, to whom an Ilizarov fixator was applied in order to lengthen her leg. The results are excellent to this day and the gratitude of her father is immense.
27th September. Surgery for 4 children and an adult in the Hospital of Mathari in Nyeri.
30th September. The doctors leave Naro Moru after a week entirely dedicated to the children. In our hands we have the operating list for next January. About a hundred children will have the opportunity of bettering their conditions of life thanks to an operation.
15th November. Our Centre is celebrating. We inaugurate the 5-year plan we have constructed over the past months with the staff, the committee and the members of our team. The guests at our celebrations express their friendship joyfully and commit themselves to giving dignity to those children who are less fortunate.
30th November. December, month of holidays is just round the corner. The children return to their families. For many of them the rehabilitation programme has reached its end, others will be back in 2012.
Our Centre does not close up completely, however. We give 15 children with club foot the possibility of staying on in the Centre in order to begin treatment (the Ponseti method) in preparation for the surgery of January 2012.
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