My heart broke wide open with a new possibility in the most unlikely circumstance.
Earlier this month I was visiting Kipchamgaa Children’s home which you may or may not know I support through the Michelle Richmond Foundation.
It came to light that over half of the 40 children wet the bed. Can you imagine over 20 pairs of pyjamas, sheets, blankets to be hand washed every single day, in a climate where it rains on average 330 days a year?
You can you also imagine that all of the children come from very distressed circumstance and it’s very possible that behind their big brown eyes and the cheeky smiles, exist experiences we can never know or understand.
So 2 weeks later having pondered what we could do to support the children with their bed wetting and what is behind it, I worked with my clients on the IMMERSION Safari to support the children with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). We arrived prepared and ready for an open conversation about emotions and feelings and shared the morning talking about how the children feel, what makes them happy, what makes them sad, scared etc and spent the rest of the day doing EFT, amidst storytelling, playing and colouring-in to keep the mood calm and light.
We had a feel good call from Stella saying over half of the children had stopped wetting the bed, mainly the younger girls!
Phew, a big relief … it worked!
Now the house mothers are able to use EFT to continue supporting the other children, every night before they go to sleep they do the tapping practice. Some may organically stop wetting the bed as a natural progression in life or they may not, but the pressure in the laundry is off and the children are sleeping more peacefully.
It’s a win, win, but not the end of the story.
Whilst we were colouring in, I asked Joseph if he’d like to join in. Joseph who is now 21, has been at the home since he was 9. He is autistic, he cannot speak, though I am pleased to report there has been massive improvement in his coordination and ability to move, run and bounce the soccer ball on his knee, since he has been going to the Academy of Learning for Autistic Children. Which thanks to one of our sponsors he started at the beginning of the year. Here he is learning to garden so when he comes home he has a purpose, he can work in the garden with the gardener, have company, feel needed, instead of just hanging around with the little people who don’t go to school.
When I asked Joseph if he’d like to colour in, he was very busy driving Barbie around in the toy truck and I was surprised when the house mother who was with us said ‘Joseph cannot colour-in’. So later when I saw him pick up some pencils I tore a page from the colouring book for him and he proceeded to colour in, beautifully, inside the lines.
So once again it got me thinking, ‘What else don’t we know about Joseph?’, ‘What else can he do that we haven’t seen?’ We know he understands what is said and asked of him, but until last year no one thought to seek special education for him, no one thought he’d move more freely, no one thought his hand would transform from being crippled and claw-like to being fluid and holding things, no one thought about assessing his abilities and training him so he had a purpose, something more to live for.
In both stories …
No one thought.
No one asked ‘What if?’
No one even considered things could be different, not through any lack of compassion, they just didn’t know there were other possibilities, resources and tools available to them to change their experience.
On Tuesday I woke up as the sun was rising over the ocean and the birds where coming to life, with the thought ‘What if Joseph could speak?’
At 12.50 on Tuesday afternoon my What’s app pinged and a picture arrived of Joseph ready to go back to school and ready to leave. Without thinking I picked up the phone and called Stella and asked to speak to Joseph. (Just writing this leaves me flush with the warm and fuzzy and goose bumps)
And as I said to him ‘Hi Joseph, it’s Michelle’ he made a noise in response, he was attempting to speak. With each thing I said he responded, attempting to speak, over and over again.
Stella was in the background excitedly saying ‘he’s trying to talk to you, he’s trying to talk to you’!
I had never heard Joseph try to speak … I was dumbfounded and my eyes moistened … surely it’s a sign, we can at least explore if we can support him to speak or communicate, even just a tiny bit.
At 3pm my client calls, we have the usual greeting and as he asks ‘How are you?’, to which I usually don’t share personal things I said ’I’m elated, I had the most heart-warming experience today’ and I told him this story I’m now telling you.
And with that he shared that he was on a fund raising committee to help raise money for a particular Autistic School which successfully used an arts program to help the children to speak.
And so the exploration begins.
All from the question ‘WHAT IF?’