Growing Up With Cerebral Palsy

While in Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam we met a wonderful non-profit called Caritas, helping hundreds of very poor people in and around the city.  One of their many programs involves visiting and giving physical and message therapy to 26 children with cerebral palsy.  

Caritas volunteers, use their personal motor scooters and travel anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes in one direction to visit each child biweekly.  Usually two trained volunteers work together to give a child a one hour-long session per visit.

After a few days of interacting with the charity, we were invited to visit some of the children.  It wasn’t until then, however, that we fully grasped the importance of the program and the poverty of the families.  During the visits we learned that the children seldom leave their houses because families don’t have cars and can’t even afford taxi rides.  We were also surprised that the volunteers never used any tools to help the children, other than their hands and random household items.

In an effort to help the children by better maximizing their therapy time, we proposed to give the program two portable kits.  Essentially, the kits would have basic tools to make the therapy sessions more effective.  In short, the charity was thrilled because it had always wanted something similar but never had the means to pay for it.

As a result, we teamed up with a local physical therapist, a doctor, and the program manager to go shopping and buy them only what they requested.  All gifts/tools were selected by the program staff (see video above or picture below)

Interestingly, the new kit items now allow the volunteers to include music and play therapy into their sessions.  It’s a win-win for everyone. 

The total project cost was $541 and took about six days to complete.

“Cerebral Palsy is the general term for a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.  CP is caused by damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.  People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments.  And although the brain injury that causes cerebral palsy cannot be healed, the resulting physical impairment can be managed with a wide range of treatments and therapies.”