It’s 9am on Monday morning and our waiting area for the Project for Afghan Refugees with Disability (DARP) is empty, but chatter can be heard coming from the class room. The project staff have gathered for their weekly staff meeting. It is the one hour they have to themselves as a team, a time to discuss, plan, assess, evaluate, question, give feed-back, remind, refocus, share and laugh.
Today, after some general information and discussions, there is time to look at specific family situations. The speech therapist explains that she struggles to engage Amir’s* mother. Even though she has explained and shown all the exercises to her several times and practices with her and Amir in therapy, the mother doesn’t seem to do any of them at home. “With daily practice Amir could learn to speak clearly within a few months. But a session once a week is like a drop on a hot stone” the therapist shares with frustration.
Amir’s social worker quickly understands the situation and gives some background: On her home visit she got a glimpse of the pressure Amir’s mother is under. Three other children demand her attention, one of them who is really struggling because he is in danger of dropping out of school. Financial worries and the father’s lack of support and interest in the children compounds the pressure.
The team agrees to put therapy on hold and to instead invite the mother to a counselling session. This proves to be a step in the right direction.
The mother shares with the social work counsellor that Amir doesn’t cooperate at all with her at home. He misbehaves and she doesn’t know how to handle him. This is a problem the counsellor hears from many parents of children with hearing and speech impairments.
In the following staff meeting we decide to plan a series of group sessions for these mothers. Both the speech therapist and the social work counsellor run it together and they focus on the topic of bringing up children with hearing impairments.
What a success this group turns out to be! The similar experiences unite the mothers. The therapist’s input, combined with basic life skills education, help them to bridge the gap between the project and the home. And the success stories they share in the following sessions encourage others to give it a try as well.
This is what only TEAM work can do.