In one of the first weeks I wrote a reflection about the meaning of life. This subject has dominated my thoughts for a while. Now, a few weeks later, I can say that working at ALEH and thinking about the meaning of life has really changed my view. I appreciate my own life much more than I did before. Life is pure, life is beautiful and life is above all very vulnerable. When I wrote the reflection about the meaning of life I could not see the meaning of life for all those disabled children at ALEH. However, in the last couple of weeks I have learned to look behind a child’s problems and disabilities and to see who they truly are.
A colleague asked me if I would mind to work longer and take care of a boy that arrived that day at ALEH. I stayed and took care of this adorable 2 year old boy who was not able to communicate at all. I took care of him and brought him to bed. To make this boy feel comfortable in his new bed in a whole new place, I talked to him in Dutch en stroked his head. He calmed down and fell asleep, just like a ‘normal’ child. This made me realize again that those children are not that different in some things.
At the beginning of my internship I had to learn about everything and I found it emotionally really difficult. But after a few weeks I felt more comfortable in working with my colleagues and taking care of the children. I started to talk to the children in Dutch because I cannot speak Hebrew and they cannot speak or understand English. I explain to them what I am doing and I tell them things about myself and my life. Some of the children respond (in their own way) and other children do not respond at all. But that does not matter, talking to them feels good!
I found out that the little boy can talk with his eyes. I learned what means ‘yes’ and what means ‘no’. I was very enthusiastic about the fact that this sweet boy is able to communicate! He knows what he wants and that made me realize once again that there is a person behind that disabled body.
I think that it is very important that we as nurses and caregivers learn to see the little things; a smile, a push from a child that does not like something, the way they look at you.. All those things show me that there is really a person behind the disabled body. They may not be ‘normal’, but they are all little persons. Persons who need care and lots of love. My job is to take care of them and make their lives as meaningful and comfortable as possible.
I sat with one of the children who gets medicine through an inhalator. She likes to take off the mask, so you have to sit with her to prevent that. She looked at me as if to say “I don’t know you”. I explained to her in Dutch who I am, where I am coming from and why I am here at ALEH. She looked like she understood what I said. Well.. of course I know that she did not really understand what I said, but my voice and my smile were probably enough to comfort her. She took my hand and looked at my painted nails and she played with my hand. We sat there for about 15 minutes. Seeing those children as real persons makes your attitude towards them much better and you can really get to know them.
Written by Julia Burgers a Dutch nursing student and volunteer to ALEH Negev.