Some beautiful things are happening here in Cotonou! First, a look back on the last few months in the clubfoot clinic, then photos of an special event on January 11, 2017.
August 2016 - December 2016 : Strengthening the Foundation and Working Together
Since the ship’s arrival in August 2016, the Mercy Ships Ponseti team and the team at Cabinet de Kinésithérapeutes et Associés have been working hard. The goal is to build upon the earlier training from CURE International (who will continue to partner with the clinic long-term) to establish accessible and excellent quality clubfoot treatment for the people of Benin.
They treat patients together on 4 clinic days per week. Over the last few months they have taken a group of children through each phase of the Ponseti method: initial assessments, weekly casting, achilles tenotomy, and now the kids are in the bracing phase of treatment.
Regarding these first months together, Nick says "The early phase of the program involves a lot of teaching and mentoring and relationship building. I do really push the clinicians to continue pursuing excellence and perfecting their practice. This clinic already had some experience with clubfeet, which is great. I've been very impressed with the clinic as a whole, this team is dedicated to the kids they treat."
Photo below: Nick teaches an intensive training in September 2016 for the providers at Cabinet de Kinésithérapeutes. These two weeks included theory, lectures, and practice casting on clubfoot models.
Above: (Left) Nick gives a lecture during the intensive training course in September 2016. (Right) A patient plays in the bathtub while soaking off a plaster cast.
Below: (Left) The team performed the first tenotomies on board the ship with Dr. Lindsay Sherriff. Later, they began doing the tenotomy procedure at a local site. (Right) Nick, Serge, Marie-Josiane, Ulysse, Marina and Melchior pose for a photo after the intensive training.
Photo below: Sibling support during casting appointments is good for little patients!
Below left: Melchior assesses a patient. The plastic tool on the table is a goniometer, used to measure the degrees of flexibility of the foot in a variety of directions. The patient's feet are carefully measured each week to track their progress.
Below: Clubfoot baby doll always manages to get in a few pictures. He's been a patient in clubfoot clinics in several countries now. :)
Below Right: Ulysse finishes off a plaster cast on a sweet patient.
January 11, 2017 - Celebrating the Efforts and the Changes
On January 11, the Ponseti team hosted a Clubfoot Celebration event for the first group of children who "graduated" from casting, and have straight feet!
Families of the patients, the clinic staff, Mercy Ships crew and leadership, and even a representative of the Ministry of Health attended the celebration. The Mercy Ships hospital chaplaincy team led songs, and there was MUCH dancing and jubilation. (See for yourself in the photos below)
Nick explains "The reason why we wanted to have this celebration day was to mark this as a special moment. We want to celebrate the kids' new straight feet and the accomplishments of the local team. This is also a great opportunity to raise community awareness of the clinic. But above all, it is to thank God for what He has done and what He is doing."
The day was full of joy, smiles and color.
Ulysse, Melchior and Marina count how many guests have come.
The team spent several days preparing for this event, and that included making the building as shiny and clean as possible, and decorating (good work on the balloons, Marina!)
Several parents shared their testimonies, and after that it was singing and dancing. During her testimony, one mother said "I am just so happy, I want to sing a song for you!" She led the very first song along with the chaplaincy team.
Pure celebration, joy, and thankfulness to the Lord!!!
Clementine (on the far right) shared a brief message, she has been a hospital chaplain on the ship for more than 20 years.
Melchior and other staff and parents were interviewed by the media.
Group photo of all who attended.
Head tilt photo - this is a Ponseti tradition at clubfoot events around the world. :)
These are some strong Mamas who are committed to their future of their children.
Team and patients group photo - very, very good work to everyone involved!
The clinic's future...sharing the news!
Melchior arranged for the media to attend the celebration- and by the end of the week the good news of clubfoot treatment in Cotonou was shared on a national television station and three different newspapers.
The title here reads "Treatment of clubfoot in Benin: Children re-find their smiles", and the first sentence says "It is no longer a dream but a reality, children suffering from clubfeet are treated and healed on our own land."
Below are a few screenshots from the news report. It aired on the evening news, and then four more times in the following days. The reporters did a great job of explaining that clubfoot is treatable, that the ponseti method works, and that treatment is accessible in Cotonou through our partner clinic.
Just look at this little guy- surrounded by people celebrating his healing! He won't remember his clubfeet, but his parents will be able to tell him about this journey. He, and each child who comes to the clinic, is full of promise and possibility. We pray that he will accomplish all that God has for him to do with his life (on two straight feet!).
We give the glory to the Lord for the good things that have happened here!
If you would like to see updates from the Cotonou clinic, they have started a Facebook page (click here).
Also, thanks goes to Justine Forrest, a Mercy Ships photographer, and to Marina Schmid, Ponseti Clinic Assistant for the fantastic photos! :)