How are the kids developing?

Firstly, a huge thank you to Martin and Zandra for all their hard work over their time volunteering at Nkoaranga orphanage  They were fantastic with the kids and Mamas and will be really missed.

Neema (3) with her cheesy smile
This week we did some age/weight charts and developmental evaluations with the kids.  This involved consulting the developmental charts which had been developed by our board members David Ross Russell and Patty Harris (both qualified medical professionals) with the help of a pediatrician.

Bekka did the developmental checks with the help of two fantastic Swedish volunteers – Martin and Zandra – before they left this week.  They involved checking things such as: can the child write their name?  Can they do letters and numbers? Can they copy a loop or a line?  Can they stack blocks? Do they know the names of different body parts and animals?  Apparently the kids loved it all!!  Other stuff the volunteers knew just from being with them, such as how many words they can say, whether they are stringing several words together yet, and how they are with interacting socially with other kids.

Zawadi (3) in deep concentration in the schoolroom

Age/weight chart-wise, we are delighted to say that every single child is a healthy weight (aside from Neema Mdogo who is a bit overweight)!  On the developmental chart, the four littlest kids are struggling with some developmental milestones, but only a bit.  We think that this is attributable to the fact that Ebeneezer Mdogo was premature and struggled with health issues early on, and perhaps to the fact that babies are wrapped up for a lot of their first few months after birth, which might mean that they don’t get some of the physical skills which we would expect.

Ebeneezer (1) chilling out on his bug-mobile
Bigger kids-wise, Franky is also a little behind: he has some social and verbal delays which are seen in the fact that he doesn’t really play with the other kids or share, or speak much, despite the fact we know he does have several words under his belt!  We think this might be due to the fact that he had a total lack of prenatal care due to his mother being homeless and mentally ill, and hopefully he will catch up given some time.

Buuut, aside from Franky, it seems that the slight delays seen in the younger kids are more than compensated for as they grow!  Happily, the rest of the bigger kids are hitting their milestones, and at least half of them are hitting milestones of a year ABOVE their actual age, which is really great to hear (especially as growing up in institutionalised care has been known to affect the development of children)!

Saimoni (5) showing us how well he can write his name (lots!)
The upshot of these checks is that we are able to let the volunteers and Mamas know about what needs work with different kids.  Obviously the little guys are easier because any issues they have are with physical stuff – for example, Isaac needs to work on his pincer grip and passing things back and forth between his hands – whereas cases like Franky are tougher because its more difficult to target verbal and social skills.  The plan is to work on the verbal stuff and hope that the social follows – we’ll keep you updated!

And this week we are pleased to bring you…

Snapshot of the Week!

Bekka and Riz have recently acquired two adorable puppies: Nusu (‘half’ in Swahili) has a half pink and half black nose, and Gnochi is exactly the colour of gnochi and just as round and delicious!  They’ve brought them to the orphanage a couple of times and they are very gentle with the kids and (after some initial hesitation) the kids adore them!  Baracka and Pray, especially, can’t get enough of them!

Baracka (4) looking a mixture of pleased and excited!
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