When I received my assignment to work with the special needs children of Ikhayalethemba, I was a bit nervous. What if I did something wrong and hurt them!? Or what if I wasn’t able to understand their way of communicating? My first day I walked into House 2 and was greeted by Ruben’s huge smile and I was hooked instantly.
I spend my mornings in the sun for massage therapy for Edward and Ruben. Ruben communicates through his many smiles while Edward makes you work a bit to earn his smile as he is more reserved. I have connected to both of them and seen small improvements in their limbs over the past month. After Ruben and Edward my afternoons are a lot more flexible. Sometimes I take Aluta out on his walker, or spend time with Thuso working on his motor skills and flexibility, and since I’m also assigned to the babies, I spend many afternoons with baby Ricardo in his quest to walk. I’m so proud to say that my first day, Ricardo would only take a few steps with a lot of encouragement. Now, he walks everywhere! He just had to work on his confidence and it’s hilarious to see him waddling everywhere behind the other children.
Also, I have really enjoyed involving the other children in the work with the special needs children. So many of the children are so nurturing and gentle. They love using massage cream to help with the therapy, and they also sing to them during therapy. The past 4 weeks at Ikhayalethemba have been rewarding, challenging and inspiring. Each of the children communicates in their own way and I have loved my time with them. The days and weeks aren’t long enough.
Ashley Rouse – Ikhayalethemba Volunteer