Oh guys, today was a good day. I think you’re going to be pretty excited about today. I know I’m excited. Maybe that’s why it’s 12:52am and I’m still awake and just crazy enough to start writing a blog post. Forgive the late-night typos and the lack of pictures, this news just can’t wait.
About a month ago I shared with you about our two newest additions to the Isolation Building. I wrote about it here: https://wideawakefamily.com/2014/07/04/it-just-keeps-getting-better/ Our two new little guys (the “Littles”) are teeny tiny and we knew they would need a lot of extra support to be able to thrive. Right before we left for camp in July we brought a bunch of supplies to Romaniv to help the nannies care for them more easily. We left for camp unsure of how they would do at Romaniv, in their new environment, but hopeful.
Last Friday we finally made it back to Romaniv after three awesome weeks at camp. Oh my, it felt amazing to be back with all our boys. They were visibly happy to see us (which was a blessing all on it’s own!) and we were ecstatic to be back with them. We missed those faces!
We could see right away that the Littles have not been thriving. I don’t fault the institution, the nannies in the Isolation Building genuinely do care about them and do their best to meet their needs. I fault a system that sets people up for failure. Simply put, there is no way it is possible for 2 nannies to give 22 boys with severe disabilities the care they desperately need. Once you add the needs of the Littles to all the others it becomes over-the-top impossible. The Littles are still learning to eat from a spoon instead of only by bottle. Bravo nannies for trying to teach them to take food from a spoon! They are unable to walk, and one of them is unable to even sit, but who has the time to help them weight bear and learn to crawl and learn to grasp toys and learn to interact with their environment? With a building full of other boys who don’t understand personal space or boundaries or how to be gentle with “babies” , how do you keep these little ones safe without keeping them in their cribs all day long? I don’t fault the nannies. I’m not at all sure how I would do different if I were in their shoes.
The honest truth we saw right away is that there is no way these boys could thrive without a big intervention.
So, we went home last Friday and asked God how Wide Awake could or should intervene.
The thing is, we will be at a language intensive for the next bit and won’t be able to be at Romaniv for 3 weeks. We couldn’t help but feel a desperation to help before we leave, and on Tuesday Jed and I met with the orphanage’s Assistant Director (who came in on his vacation) to see what that help could look like.
I can’t brag enough about this orphanage administration. They are so open to help and to new ideas and we are beyond thankful for that. They genuinely care about the boys and they really do want to improve their lives. They know they need help and they don’t turn it away when it’s offered. Thanks to those who have served them faithfully for years, we get to see the fruit that is cooperation and trust and encouragement. It’s awesome.
In our meeting the Assistant Director was super open to our ideas. He said “You know our boys. If you have ideas to make their lives better we will do our best to help you reach those goals.” Praise God.
We presented the idea of Wide Awake International hiring an extra nanny to care specifically for the Littles for the next three weeks while we are away. The purpose of the nanny would be:
1. To feed the boys the way they need to be fed so that they are able to keep down the nutrition they work so hard to take in. They both have reflux and one of them is still very lacking in the oral skills needed to eat safely from a spoon. Feeding them properly takes a long time and the regular nannies just don’t have that time with their normal workload.
2. To provide therapeutic interventions that will help the boys build strength and motor skills- both gross and fine. They need to bear weight on their legs and arms. They need to learn to crawl. They need to learn to grasp toys. They need to have tummy time and neck control….and and and…. 🙂 Any attention to their bodies, any play will help them come closer to achieving those goals.
3. To love. These little ones live confined to their beds. Oh how they would thrive with time and attention and physical touch. Oh how they would thrive with a walk in a stroller, to feel the sun on their faces. Oh how they would thrive when being held, just for the sake of being held.
The Assistant Director liked the idea. He presented it to the Director who liked the idea,
Annnnnnddddd….today we met our nanny! Wahooooooo!
She is a kind, gentle woman who seems to be just the right fit. We pray it is so. She was visibly touched when she first met the boys and she was open to all our instructions and ideas. Today we discussed our ideas for working with the boys’ bodies and how we would like them to be fed. If she implements these ideas we won’t help but see improvement. Improvement in their overall well-being is inevitable. 🙂
Our Wide Awake nanny will work from 8-5, Monday through Friday (with possible some time on Saturdays) and her main focus will be the Littles. If they are sleeping she can help out some with the others, but we were very clear about our expectations that she focus on the Littles. We really want to see how they improve and how they respond to this care, so as much as we love all our other boys, we need our nanny to be pretty focused. The Little’s room is like the ICU of Romaniv. Yes, all the other patients in a hospital need care, but the ones in ICU need special attention for some time. So it is with them.
Want to know something really awesome that’s like icing on the cake? There’s this awesome kid in Portland, Oregon. His name is Athen. God really gave Athen a big heart for our Boys. He loves them and for the past several months he’s been working hard to raise money to help them. He’s done a pancake breakfast and raffles and t-shirt sales. He made bracelets and sold them during school lunch. He worked hard. On Monday, the day before Jed and I met at Romaniv to present our idea about the nanny, Athen gave us his total from his fundraisers: $820. SHUT UP!!!!! So, not only did we have a really cool idea to present to the orphanage administration, but we had a big chunk of money to pay the bill for the idea (plus some!). Too stinkin’ awesome. Really.
When we get back from our language course we will see how it went with our nanny and at that point we will talk with the directors about a more long-term plan for improving the Littles’ health and well-being. The rest of the money Athen raised will be put to good use at that time. I’m confident of that!
So, there you have it! Now is that good news or what? How amazing that God sees and He knows our Littles. He loves them so much that He moved the heart of a boy across the world who didn’t even know them to work his tail off so they could have a nanny just for them. He loves them so much that He opened the hearts of the Directors to come to work on their vacation to find a nanny and sign papers and talk business and money and schedules. He loves them so much that He moved the heart of a kind woman to love them and serve them for these next three weeks.
Oh how He loves us! Woohoooooooo!