Monday, September 18, 2017

5 months since Benin

It's 5 months to the day since Nick and I left Benin- those months slipped by quickly!  

Nick and Melchior prepare for an afternoon of seeing patients at the Ponseti Clinic

Today I want to take a moment to look back at our time in Benin, and tell you about our friends and colleagues there.  In both Madagascar and Benin, we have been blessed to work alongside amazing people who have become part of our "clubfoot family" around the world.  We are immensely proud of who they are, and their dedication to their patients.

This little patient was getting her last cast taken off, just in time for her first birthday the next day.  Her mama was thrilled!

In this post in January, we shared about some of the exciting progress made by the Benin clinic.  After January, Nick and the team went on to treat another group of patients together, totaling 20 kids. Throughout this time, CURE International remained involved supporting the work of the clinic, and in March they brought Melchior on as the country's clubfoot program manager, a full time position.

Ulysse and Rosemonde carefully assess the angles of a patient's foot, tracking their progress.

Twins- one born with clubfeet one born without.

Nick and Melchior discuss braces.

Teamwork includes the patient's parents.

This little guy, ready to take his first solo steps on straight feet!

During the final months of our visit, Nick helped facilitate the clinic's transition out of the season of working with Mercy Ships.  The team's clinical skills are excellent, and we know that anyone who brings their child to this team will find safe, good quality care.

Once he was offered the position of country program manager, one of the first questions CURE asked Melchior was whether or not he had a passport.  He went and got one, and sure enough they've already sent Melchior to Kenya and Rwanda for further leadership training.  In June 2017, here he is in Kigali, Rwanda on the left, and "meeting" a giraffe in Kenya on the right:

 Melchior reports that the team is doing well, they've brought on some new therapists to help with providing treatment.  Ulysse is currently in France doing a masters program in physical therapy, and we are very happy for him as he pursues further study (but he still loves clubfoot treatment!).  The clinic in Cotonou has welcomed a further 27 clubfoot patients since the ship left port!   

Melchior continues to raise awareness about clubfoot in Benin. Here's a twitter post from CURE clubfoot:

With support from CURE, the clinic will help open a second location further north in Benin.  There is a need for more clinics outside of the Cotonou area, so that good quality treatment is available in the more rural areas of the country.  The team is well equipped to share excellent clinical knowledge with other professionals in Benin.

A few more photos from our last weeks in Benin:

Last Ponseti team dinner - Nick and Marina (ever-amazing Ponseti Program Assistant) pass out gifts, lots of laughter, and a few last rubik's cube competitions (Nick taught both Ulysse and Melchior how to solve it, and they practiced during the whole outreach).   Melchior beat Nick's time.  :-)  In the bottom left photo is Josiane, the visionary clinic director who wanted her team to learn Ponseti, saw value in the training and gave the team the freedom they needed to pursue it.  She was a wonderful support during our visit in Benin.

We miss this sweet family!  Melchior and Rosemonde are both physical therapists, and we love seeing the great things they have already done for clubfoot kids in their country! 

We are honored to call all these wonderful people our friends, and we look forward to the next time we can visit Benin!

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