Monday, September 12, 2011

They've all captured my heart...

Below you will find a wonderful update from Allison, a volunteer physical therapist at NPH Dominican Republic.

Dear Friend,

Maybe you know what it’s like to feel called to do something. Ever since I graduated as a physical therapist, I dreamt about donating my time to help the underserved. One day I finally took the plunge…

I left behind a great job and wonderful friends in Atlanta – everything I knew. And I began an eye-opening volunteer year in the Dominican Republic. So here I am now, providing physical therapy for children with special needs at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) orphanage.

I’m almost finished with an amazing year and I want to share what I’ve learned with you … because you share so much with the children of NPH!

I work with the children you support with your donations. I see firsthand what a difference your kindness makes in the lives of kids who’ve known desperate hunger. Kids who’ve lost their parents to violence. Kids who’ve found themselves horribly alone in the streets.

… Children like 8-year-old Massiel who uses a wheelchair. Despite her physical challenges, she has the biggest smile that seems to spread through her entire little body.

… Or 11-year-old Moises. Even though he can’t walk very well, he loves physical play. If I ask him, “What do you want to do today Moises?” He says, “Play!” He challenges me to keep up with him!

When I’m not working, I spend mealtimes and after school time with the pequeños hermanos – the “little brothers and sisters.” I live at is Casa San Miguel, home to a great group of 16 boys, all eager to teach me words in Spanish and impress me with their English. They each have different chores every day of the week. And they keep their home in wonderful shape!

Sometimes it gets really noisy, but as soon as someone starts the dinner prayer, all 16 boys start to sing.

It's hard to think of how sad and scary their previous lives may have been.
But coming here, I was so excited about what I could help the children accomplish during my time with them. I just wanted to give them the best therapy and care possible, because it had been almost a year since they had received any.

I work with 18 to 20 pequeños and I reach out to other kids in the community as well. Some are severely disabled. Others are more independent. And some only need a bit of help.

They’ve all captured my heart with their strength and joy. But I’d like to tell you more about Massiel and Moises, because I know they’ll capture your heart too.

Moises has poor vision and cerebral palsy affects his legs. I fell in love with him immediately. How could I help it? Every time I see him he says, "Me toma," - take me! And he talks so fast I can barely keep up!

Moises is so smart. He can identify someone across the yard by hearing their voice.
A few years back, Moises had surgery to lengthen the muscles in his legs. But now they are almost too long. As a result, he is constantly moving back and forth between bending his legs and hyperextending them.

In physical therapy school we learned that walking is something like a controlled fall. Well, my friend Moises has no control. So he falls all of the time. His poor scratched-up legs are proof of that. That’s why we're working on strengthening his muscles to improve his stability. We’ve been able to do some fun things that may not seem like therapy to him, but have really helped with his walking.

You should see the pride in Moises’ face when he does something well. We've been working on how to stand and he gets so excited when he does it right, he almost falls over again!

Then there’s Massiel. She is so glad to see me when I come to her house in the morning. Massiel makes the sweetest little sounds. It feels like I can have a conversation with her even though she can’t talk. She laughs at my best jokes. And she even laughs at my bad jokes too.

Massiel uses a wheelchair. I'm working with her to improve her head and upper body control. She’s making slow but steady progress keeping her body upright and strong.

I think she will be one of those little sisters who will be hardest to leave. She’s always so happy to see me, and then cries whenever I go.

When I finish my year, there is no therapist to replace me, yet. So I’ve been working on the special needs program as a whole. My priority is to educate the older pequeños and their caretakers so that they may help the children do their exercises until another therapist arrives.

I wish you could meet these children. They’re so loving. And they’ve accomplished so much for kids who’ve come from utter poverty. It’s a testament to the care they receive from NPH – and you.

So thank you, for thinking of the little brothers and sisters in all of our nine homes who would have no home if it weren’t for NPH, for you, and for the gifts you give to Friends of the Orphans.

I’ve learned so much. I hope I’ve given so much too. I really want to continue to support the pequeños from afar, just like you do.

I hoped to make lasting change and allow myself to be forever changed … and that’s just what happened. I realize how much I’ve become invested in these kids. I feel proud when I see them working together. I feel hopeful when we talk about their futures.

I know that I would not be where I am in my life without the abundant love and support of my incredible family and friends.

And these kids would not be facing their futures with so much hope without you … and your support for them through Friends of the Orphans.

Thanks to you, they have families for life with NPH. And a sense of belonging.
They are loved unconditionally. And though many have been through terrible hardships before, they now feel safe and secure. They are learning to share responsibility. And they are gaining education, acquiring jobs, and contributing to society across nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Your support helps kids who would have suffered even more and lost their way if not for the love they’ve found in NPH homes. Please do whatever you can for them today!

With much thankfulness,

Allison Clark
Physical Therapist, NPH Volunteer, Dominican Republic

In addition to making a gift to help our disabled children face the future with hope, you can also transform the life of a child by becoming a sponsor.

• NPH has welcomed 135 new children so far this year. Become a Sponsor for $30/month or more and you will have the opportunity to personally connect with a child and see your generosity in action.

For more information click here or call 1-888-201-8880.

Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Allison-

    You are such an inspiration and have literally changed these children's lives. Not only have you changed their lives physically, but you have impacted their lives as the example you are. Be so proud of yourself, you have done a job that most cannot do. They will never, never forget you. Believe that. You will forever have Moises in your heart, as he will do the same. He is your child and you will forever be in the NPH family. As you are leaving, with all the emotions you are facing, know that you are just a flight away from 'home' and will always be welcome. You have touched so many lives. I cannot emphasize that enough. Dont ever change and continue to share your story.

    With my whole heart,

    Suerte con todos,
    Madelon (Magdalena) :)


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