News and Events

Step by Step


When Betty was brought to the Children`s home in SALEM-Uganda she was 5 years old but wasn´t able to walk or talk mainly because of malnutrition and abuse by her own mother. Thanks to the loving care of the SALEM-Aunties who supported her with a special training she learned how to walk.

Her good development made it possible for her to join the nursery school. But still today her situation is an enormous challenge for everyone. She needs a lot of attention that the teachers of course cannot give her.

As a volunteer I have the possibility to spend time with her on her own. Together with our experienced social workers I have developed a plan how to work with her and what is most important for her development.

Using a latrine
When we started our training Betty wasn`t able to use the toilet on her own or communicate the necessity. At first she seemed to be afraid to enter the cabin. Nine weeks later she not only uses the toilet when someone asks her to do so but very often shows by herself that she needs to go and even washes her hands afterwards.

Creating a body-awareness
Betty´s physical development is still behind the other children of her age. Her movements are clumsy. A lot of small exercises are meant to rise awareness for the different parts of her body and to help her use her body according to her wishes. She is happy about every ball she is able to catch and is eager about “head, shoulders, knees and toes”.

Verbal and non-verbal communication
Although she often seems to be distracted and not listening she understands a lot and most of the time does what she is told. Until now she hardly tried to communicate what she thinks or needs. If you told her to repeat something she just silently moved her lips. In the last few weeks when she started to notice that I am aware of her she sometimes started to communicate non-verbally, e.g. when she needs to use the toilet, wants to go back to the classroom or show what she has painted. When she is cheerful she sometimes repeats some syllables or words or calls my name to get attention. These special moments show that she is able to use her voice. I am sure that she will be able to use this kind of communication as soon as she realizes what she can achieve with it.

Betty still has to go a long way but already in these few weeks we can see a difference. She seems to be more lively and is reacting more to her environment. She enjoys being part of a group. Step by step she will find her own way.

(Text by Mirjam Fritz, Volunteer in SALEM-Uganda)

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