Thursday, June 26, 2014

HAITI :: Christina's first miraculous steps

Christina after 2 successful surgeries
(photo courtesy of West Tennessee Haiti Partnership)
Remember beautiful Christina from St. Vincent’s? She is one of the many children we have connected with in Haiti over the years. Her story is nothing short of miraculous and, by supporting The Red Thread’s work in Haiti, YOU have been an integral part of her success. 

During a Red Thread outing in 2012
An otherwise completely healthy infant, Christina was born with a birth defect that caused severe clubbing in both of her feet. Over the years she endured multiple unsuccessful surgeries and castings to correct her condition, after which she was no closer to walking than she was the day she was born.

In 2013, the tides began to change for Christina. No longer would she be resigned to life in a wheelchair, but rather to a newfound hope of planting both feet on the ground (something her condition never allowed her to do) and even walking independently!
Following her first successful surgery
Through our partnership with West Tennessee Haiti Partnership (WTHP), Dr. Bheki Khumalo (clubfoot specialist / Memphis, TN) and Dr. Georges Beauvoir (surgeon / Port-au-Prince, Haiti), Christina's first successful surgery was completed in August 2013. The skilled surgical team performed a tendon release, bone and soft tissue correction, and finally a foot rotation on her right.

After her foot healed, Christina's second surgery was completed in February 2014 on her left. When the stitches were removed, she was able to wear a boot and worked with a physical therapist to strengthen her legs.

Gazing at two corrected feet
(photo courtesy West Tennessee Haiti Partnership)
In April came Christina’s miracle! Our partners from WTHP were conducting a clinic at Christina’s home, St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Dr. Jenn and Tiffany (visiting physical therapist and nurse respectively) began stretching Christina's legs and ankles, encouraging her to begin putting weight on her feet. Then it was time for Christina to stand up. With support of each arm, Christina put one foot in front of the other and took THE FIRST STEPS OF HER LIFE!

After 16 years of thinking walking was something unachievable, she was able to take her first steps and one of our partners from WTHP was able to capture it on video! The footage is raw but heartwarming. You can see the tender care given to her by Dr. Jenn when she gently wipes her face right before she walks.

Christina is a bright, energetic girl who is well on her way to leading a more normal life now that both feet are corrected. She will continue to work with therapists to walk and become increasingly independent.

Christina may never have taken these steps without your support for which we are eternally grateful. Your donations made it possible to rent a sterile surgical suite, purchase medications, schedule after-care and physical therapy, and cover all associated expenses for this beautiful young lady's care. We are forever grateful for Dr. Bheki, Dr. Beauvoir and Dr. Jenn for their countless hours working with her. 

We invite you to continue to be a part of this life-transforming process, helping kids like Christina, kids whose biggest obstacle in life was being born into poverty where adequate medical care isn't an option as their families struggle to put food on the table.

The cost of both surgeries - $3600!
The long-term effects - priceless.

There are many more success stories like Christina’s shared on our Facebook, website and this blog. Our team is available via phone or email to answer any questions you may have about how we serve impoverished children with disabilities. We invite you to join us in making a difference in these children’s lives. Financial support can be sent via our website or PayPal link at left or by check. Thank you for caring.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: McKenna Farms Mission Experience, Late Spring 2014 part 1

TRTP volunteer, Rhonda, greeting one of the therapy horses

(left to right: Bernie, Rhonda, Wilma, Christian, Judy, Sonya, Glenna, Jim)
We’ve come back to McKenna Farms for another amazing mission experience. Back to visit the children and families we support, back to the gentle horses who lend their bodies willingly and gracefully, encouraging the children on top with their easy, repetitive movements, stimulating the small bodies to copy the sweet, free motion. Back to the quiet experts, the staff and therapists who make McKenna Farms a special, loving place for these children.  

Landon, his therapist and the horse-handler at the entrance 
to the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail
This time we’re working along the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail (the trail), built in honor and memory of our own Jacob, for whom Jacob’s Fund is named. Nestled in the woodlands surrounding the farm, the trail leads through forest and along a stream, circling back to the sensory stations. Each year, sun and rain weather and wear the stations along the trail, and this winter’s polar vortex has taken its toll.

As we plan our work, we observe Landon on horseback placing colorful beanbag frogs into the openings of the shape sorter, stuffing a frog in a cutout of a red circle, matching the color and shape called out by his therapist. For him, this is fun. The sensory stations appeal to his senses of touch, vision, hearing, and smell with fuzzy and smooth-leaved plants; colorful flowers, plants, shapes and tubes; large melodic chimes; and fragrant herbs. 

However, the affect of the activity reaches much deeper than fun – it is serious developmental science. Children like Landon who experience developmental delays often have difficulty processing sensory input, our basic interactions with the world. These are the building blocks of all activity, allowing them to negotiate the world in which they live. The sensory stations play a critical role in occupational therapy.

We are so happy to work on this trail. It is so meaningful to us and to all of the young people who use it daily as part of their therapy.

And now the work begins.

McKenna Farm's new barn entrance

Thursday, June 5, 2014

THANK YOU :: Columbus Montessori

A big shout out to long-time supporters from Columbus Montessori Education Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Upper Elementary class, kids in grades 4-6, conduct various activities and fundraisers throughout the school year to pay for their end-of-year trips. The group always designates a charity to receive 20% of their earnings. For the 4th consecutive year, that charity is The Red Thread Promise!


Alumni parent and TRTP VP, Sonya, was on hand this week during the school's graduation celebration to receive the check from a representative of the Upper Elementary class. We are deeply appreciative of the efforts of these young people in supporting other kids. Thank you for your continued support and best wishes to all of the graduates!