A Special Time for Ruth.
There is a reason for the term “special needs” and it’s in the word “special”. The children here are so beautiful; so individually special.
There is something incredibly unique about sharing time with those with special needs and I believe it to be in the power of the moment that is unavoidable when in their company; a value and lesson in life that is hard to grasp.
The children here with special needs all cannot speak, yet communication is not an issue, why?
I often think to myself, the ability to talk isn’t always a blessing. We, as humans, allow thoughts and conversations to reduce the possibilities of embracing the moment. When speech is removed, all previous experiences or future aspirations become incommunicable, everything becomes about the moment, the present! How often do you share this with another? This is the essence of each one of these beautiful children! Anyone who experiences moments with any of them would agree that in ‘conversation’ with them, they experience the power of the present and overlook everything else. Momentarily suspended from the “think ahead” nature of our society.
The townships themselves carry this too, it’s a very special environment.
To be able to be present with someone, sharing the simple experience of the moment is exciting and empowering for it brings a special kind of freedom into the relationship.
What is actually important is the here and now. Nothing mystical, just now, very simple, straightforward… experiencing the now possesses a lot of powerful things! It is so powerful that we can’t always face it and therefore we have to borrow from the past and invite the future all the time.
If I have taken this from just 4 weeks with these children, it goes to show the extent of the unique experience the townships in South Africa hold.
A huge part of my personal experience has been the use of the brand new sensory room. A project that was completed as I arrived and one I am incredibly grateful for. A few volunteers for a month before I arrived were keen to give these children a space of their own, where they could also develop and work on their skills. I have to say- they have done an amazing job! Transforming a cluttered, dull container into a peaceful haven containing a hub of sensory tools, offering ample approaches to communicating with each child.
The girls put together a presentation where they explained the diagnosis of each child and how the sensory room can be used for each to help with his/her specific needs. It was incredibly insightful and reassuring to know this information will be passed on to ensure continuity and consistency in the children’s progression. There has been many “systems” in place for these kids but with the nature of the project, with volunteers coming and going, it is actually very hard to ensure this consistency. However what this room have given, is more valuable than any “system” any volunteer wanting to give these children time will find ways of sharing moments with them in this room and that is the most important gift; communication and time.
The sensory room is a blessing for both the volunteer and the child; an environment where communicating comes easy for all abilities involved.
As I said, I arrived just as this project was complete. I became part of the process of putting the room into practise, and what a fun journey that has been to be part of!
As Cheryl says, each volunteer leaves footprints in the whole journey of progress in this overarching project, sharing knowledge and experience.
- Cape Coast
- Cape Town
- Chiang Mai
- Community Development
- Fiji Islands
- Gap Year
- Kampong Cham
- Luang Prabang
- Mahe and Curieuse
- Marine Conservation
- Personal Development
- Phang Nga
- Responsible Travel
- Service Learning
- Study Abroad
- Under 18