September 23

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When I met Rose

I would love to share a story of an encounter I had with an amazing individual I had the privilege of meeting when conducting the audio assessment day at Kasenje Primary School.

Rose was a little nine year old girl who was visually impaired and quite clearly shaken by the noise and kerfuffle of the audio assessment. She caught my eye as her hands were frantically stroking her carefully made little denim dress. My spidey-senses were telling me this girl had a little bit of spunk in her and I was drawn to crouching down and having a chat.

I had a think of what I could do to help calm her mind. I blew up a little blue balloon, to match her dress and for her to hold and describe the feeling of, in hope of calming her mind. I asked her teacher to introduce me and gave her the balloon. I dearly regret not having a camera at hand to take a photo of her face as she took the balloon in hand. It was a thing of beauty to watch curiosity and adventurous exploration take a hold of every muscle of her face.

The balloon served its purpose and Rose was suitably calmer and smiling.

As a side bar, I have learnt it is frustrating to not have camera ready and I know I am not getting nearly enough photos of me in them as I try to record this amazing adventure. But I read an article recently about top ten tips for photography, and the 6th tip was to learn to put the camera down and be present.
This was one of those moments.

As the hearing assessment began, you could see Rose was clearly uncomfortable with what was happening, but you could see her gritted determination taking place and her decision to just get through it. My respect for her grew immediately.

Rose then underwent a painful procedure for her ears, as she had quite a severe infection. The audiologist was as gentle as he could be. But Rose reached her tipping point.

I think what I was bracing for was that typical child tantrum of communication through noise and tears. What happened next made my respect for this little girl grow exponentially again! Rose calmly placed her hand on the Audiologists arm, not letting go of the balloon she was so fond of, and simply said “That is all Thank you”.

How I wish with all my heart that she could have seen my face in return. It was a smile full of complete admiration for this poised little girl, who clearly had a tough gig, but was setting a high bench mark for how to deal with distress.

The audiologist and I decided to change the scenery for Rose and took her hand and guided her to a much quieter place where we could talk to her about her medication and what needed to happen for her ears to get better. What Rose proved to us was she was a serious little negotiator and we got backed into a corner. The deal that if she told us a poem, and remembered our names (this is over an hour after we were introduced in a noisy environment, to a 9 year old with little to no vision) that she could take the medication home and have her mum administer it.
Mwasonie, the audiologist, and I looked at each other knowing we had been told what was what and agreed.

She didn’t skip a beat and perfectly pronounced both of our names, touching each of our hands as she said them. Rose then opened up to a long and beautiful poem about the disabled being mistreated and that society needed to change. She then went off to play with her friends, and it was of no surprise that she was the centre of the circle holding court with her peers.
It has been a week since I met Rose, and she is emblazoned on my mind and in my heart. I will steal the words of Mwasonie, who sent me through the video today, and commented “Every time I watch and listen to this video, I am always touched and it has given me more and more energy to work hard in reaching out to under privileged children.”

Pulse Lesson # 4: From little things big things grow