Mrs Chwefung Anastasia Sama writes from the Our Lady of Consolation Care Centre for Children with Special Needs
, a Marist Project in Bambili, Cameroon:
PURPOSE / OBJECTIVES
Our Lady of Consolation Center Bambili is a day care center for children with special needs - existing now for close to 14 years and it is being run by the Marist Fathers. It has grown and it is still growing, in the objective to trained and interact with children living with disabilities (and also with their families). This interaction involves familiarizing both children their families with the concern center and civil authorities involved in their social interaction.
To be a child of disability is a serious challenge to the modern society. Is it correct to call it "a disability"? we in Our Lady of consolation have learned to call and identify an obvious disability with a child in the plural form. So each and any of our children suffer from disabilities. This is because seeing some of their tender ages, their poor family background, their earlier rejection or difficulty to socially insert and interact in their society, they show proof of future further similar disabilities. Just to say it becomes noticeable that a child who long suffered from meningitis has autism and speech disabilities. As such the center focuses on the purpose of helping children with disabilities in attaining the maximum skills for their personal autonomy to achieving social insertion. So the question on how the center has impacted children with disabilities is our next concern to consider.
Chwefung Anastasia Sama - Director of OLCC
How has the center for children with disabilities OLCC Bambili has impacted the lives of children with disabilities?
We can easily understand the impact the center OLCC has had in the lives of the children with disability, including their families and the community in general by considering the time table of programs and work the center gets the disabled children involved in. Also, the center also promotes a Christian life style, respecting the faith of the children and that of their family and in all giving the children maximum love and support.
In the center, they have workshops for vocational training. Some children have graduated from their workshops and now serve their community. Some of them are;
- a) Crafts workshop: Children with disabilities are trained in making bamboo chairs, tables, brooms, marking and knitting (caps, nets, bag race, traditional wear) etc.
- b) Beads workshop: With beads, disabled children are taught and guided on successfully making rosaries, bags, bangles or necklaces all with beads.
- c) A modern physiotherapy center for physical exercises twice a week and speech therapy exercises.
- d) Attached to the above varying games which the children practice.
- e) At other times the embrace the hobby of drawing and coloring.
- f) Provision of Kitchen and Services As disabled children from difficult background, it becomes imperative to contain them with a daily nutritional program. This helps many who practically are underfed.
- g) Lessons in communication Many disabled children often suffer from speech therapy and understanding difficulties. Those lessons in communications helps them in identifying sounds and letters and of course much improvement witnessed.
- h) Other important compulsory activities:
- (i) Hygiene: Very essential as children are basically taught to practice regular washing of hands and making sure the eat clean and healthy food.
- (ii) Sex education: In areas where disabled children are kept away from social insertion and allowed to remain in ignorance of the realities of their human biology, the dangers are evident. What becomes of a baby born by disabled children? This education helps the children to be sexually responsible.
- (iii) Home visits: The staff of OLCC has a regular program for home visits, to see into it that what the children learn at the center is what the practice at home, and also to counsel parents and family on the weakness of the children, as well to witness their satisfaction from the changes witnessed in them.
- (iv) Christmas party activities: these are one of those main activities that permit disable children to enjoy their social insertion especially as they see themselves same level with other normal children who are equally part of these x-mass party activities. They experience this social insertion because the activities of both the disable and normal children are all the same e.g. x-mass sketch or drama, and presentation of gifts.
(v) IDPLWD: this stands for International Day for Persons Living with disabilities. This alone shows that the regular and yearly OLCC in the IDPLWD is a big sign of social insertion. During this day center is part of the activity as they present a speech on behalf of them of this day, and the whole center is at the field to meet their other sister centers and feel and become aware of their social insertion.
Celebrating International Day for Persons living with Disabilities
Other aims/goals OLCC
As we previously mentioned, we are growing and in the growth we still have our challenges. Having 30 disabled children and 3 staffs, we necessarily have the difficulties of transporting these disabled children, 90% of whom live inside the village. It has become imperative for us to need a small bus for the center to see into this problem. It is a problem because due to their distance, most of these disabled children are unable to reach the center on a weekly basis. If they try some can attend once or twice and they do so not without attributing their irregularity to their distance. Besides a bus the center visions the inclusion of an audiovisual program for the children. This will help some of them from certain backgrounds to catchup in the trends of modern times.
We remain faithful and resolved in our work as we look forth to improve all nooks and crannies that permit us move ahead with our disabled children.
A Brief History of OLCC
The idea of the center for children with disabilities in Bambili came in 2005 with Sr. Kathleen O'Brian from the Holy Rosary congregation. Children were then gathered under the "Treasure Center". Due to functioning difficulties, the idea was handed over the Marist Fathers (Society of Mary) in 2007. For missionary fitness, the center was unanimously Baptized "Our Lady of Consolation Center for Children with Special Needs (OLCC)".Our motto is "As Mary, to be an instrument of consolation and mercy".
A Personal Profile of the Director
My names are Chwefung Anastasia Sama, nee Ndofor. Married with 4 children. A native from Bambili in the North West region of Cameroon. I have a Bachelor degree (B.A) in Education and minor in Women studies, Diploma in Nursery Nursing and Specialized Education.
I started working in 2005. After Church I got an announcement that they need people who could work in taking care of children with special needs, I immediately applied and I was selected. At that time the center was under treasure center and after 2 years it was changed to OLCC.