Today the most amazing thing happened at the children’s home where we did one of our sessions last year. I’m there a lot because the organization that rusn it, Vision Nepal, is also the implementing partner organizaiton for Eva Nepal’s oral health care program.
I’d been in the office all morning talking with our dental program director and was just leaving when I walked past a doorway and saw one of the newest snuggly and bright members, 6 year old Laxu. He was sitting completely still and staring blankly at the floor. I came in and talked to him quietly but he didn’t respond or move or shift his gaze. I picked him up and took him to the roof and walked around in the sunshine. He slumped on me like a doll and didn’t say a thing.
For another few minutes we sat together and he still seemed dazed and afraid and wouldn’t make a sound. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t leave him but I also didn’t know how to help. We only know some of what Laxu’s life was like before he came to the children’s home, but we know it was not good. He has lost both of his parents and his twin brother is being taken care of elsewhere. The house mother is a sweet girl in her early twenties but no expert on childhood trauma.
She walked by, and I asked if she’d get a copy of the IMT cards we left here last year. I put Laxu’s feet on the ground – I wasn’t sure if he would stand up – but he did so I took his hand and put my head in the doorway where the other kids were watching a movie. I asked for three volunteers and got them immediately.
The kids treated Laxu with the shock template for about 10 or 15 minutes. They ribbed him a little but mostly just talked to each other and joked around. The house mother held his head (aside: she told me she regularly goes to sleep with one hand on her belly and the other on her ureters/low back to help manage her stomach problems). Laxu stayed silent and the other kids sat around him with their hands on him gently.
I suggested that whenever Laxu gets like this – which he does – that they all repeat exactly this activity. Arjun, the oldest, agreed to be in charge. With kids, it’s kind of like any other game.
That said they’re kids and I knew I couldn’t keep them there forever, so after 10 minutes or so I asked Laxu if I could take a photo of everyone and then we’d look at it on the camera screen. I took the photo and started to put my camera away, when all of a sudden, Laxu threw his arms out in the air and burst in to a gigantic smile. The other kids started to giggle. I snapped a picture and then he leapt up with a blazing look of triumph on his face. I was astonished.
I’ve made up a special handshake with the kids that has a few moves and ends with a double fist-bump and then holding your arms up to make muscles and show how strong you are. I put my hands up and Laxu gave me the double high-five, the double fist-bump, and the muscles. “AAAHHHHH!!!” he gargled and then snuggled for a second. I took him to the other room to watch the film with the other kids and he went right in and sat down.
He completely forgot about looking at his picture on my camera.