When my sister was around 5, she got checked for glue ear. My mother had noticed she wasn’t pronouncing the ends of words, and her spelling was jumbled, dyslexic. Perhaps because she is a teacher, or maybe because she had had the privilege and opportunity to attend pre and ante-natal birth classes, my mother was aware that hearing and child development were connected. If a child cannot hear properly, then their vocabulary is reduced. With a reduced and half-formed vocabulary they can only comprehend so much, therefore they can only do so much.
When I first attended the Drop in Centre Creche I had a runny nose and a phlegm filled cough just like the children. Now I am on antibiotics. The nose has reduced to a sniff, the cough to a wheeze. The children’s mucus however, is turning green. Infection is setting in. I mentioned before, how sometimes, due to a lack of stimuli, the children sit, dazed, eyes glazed over, not listening or responding. Whilst some of that I’m sure is due to neglect from home and from teachers that are swamped by too many children, some, I’m beginning to think, is due to poor hearing.
The children’s snacks often consist of crisps, which, when speaking to those who live in the community, can be more expensive than fruit or vegetables. However, parents think they are doing right by their children, feeding and even spoiling them by buying the more expensive, yet (unknowingly) less nutritious foods. Poor parental education therefore, is having an adverse affect on these children. Without the much-needed vitamin C’s D’s and B’s too boost immunity, children are coming down constantly with colds. As sinuses are filled with mucus which exposes itself in the curves of their nostrils, bacteria is also building up in their eardrums. Speaking to a former nurse, she explained that often eardrums, under the pressure of wax and other fluids can pop and pop untill the eardrum is so damaged partial or complete deafness can occur.
If these children cannot hear when you are doing the alphabet with them, teaching them numbers, colours, how to structure sentences, then how much will they be able to learn their basic educational skills? They are being prematurely stunted from successful lives due to a poor diet and poor immunity.
Ithemba Projects is in the process of building a community centre situated in the heart of Sweetwaters, for the people of Sweetwaters. Containing a crèche, a garden, and a community hall, it will also become the site where mothers and parents of the community can come to have those much-needed ante and neo-natal pregnancy classes. Where they can be educated on the things such as one’s 5 a day, nutritional information we take for granted, yet can be the difference between life and death. It ensures having a strong immune system to combat common colds and at the extreme end, to build up immunity so that HIV/AIDS does not become the silent killer in the night, but can be restrained for years.
Prayer for Day 16: For swift progress in the building o the Ithemba Community Centre. That in time the Government and Ithemba Projects will be able to provide parents with basic health information to ensure the children of Sweetwaters are getting the most beneficial diet possible. That Government Health initiatives come and work in the communities, and simple things like blocked ears are no longer a barrier to education.