Ndironde: play is universal


Tuesday afternoon we finished up at Ndironde, an outreach to families of children with disabilities. There, we were tasked with developing a program providing occupational therapy to be implemented after we leave.

This is one of the things I love doing. But it is challenging.

Last week I was disheartened by the language barrier and our inability to facilitate the groups we had come up with due to our limited vocabulary. The program will be implemented by someone who speaks Chichewa, but still we had to try out activity ideas and go through the trial and error process.

To be honest, I wasn’t excited about going this week.

In the back of my mind I know that even though language may be a barrier, play is universal. But… last week though, our play skills were lacking the ability to lead a group more than 10 minutes or so… with a Malawian therapist leading the other group. Thus, I was not looking forward to just the two of us going to lead our newly developed groups today.

Let me return to the prior statement:

even though language may be a barrier, play is universal.

And with a few more Chichewa words in our vocabulary, it was highly effective.

The kids engaged, the mothers participated, and we all had fun. We promoted social participation, play skills, turn taking, and modeling. The mothers and children demonstrated joint engagement and the activities promoted development of gross motor skills. We adapted our plans accordingly and presented it to the Sandi staff this morning for feedback.


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