Wanblee news starts with the monthly meeting this past weekend of the Shining Start group where they assess their programs and discuss any changes and unmet needs. Baby bags are assembled at these meetings for Debbie to deliver during her home visits. She’s been finding it difficult to make that important 2 week postpartum visit to new mothers in that time span because of all the flu clinics being held. She covers Wanblee and the surrounding areas and Martin which are many miles apart. Each week Debbie also makes the 220 mile round trip drive to the village of Pine Ridge for clinic supplies and continuing education. If that wasn’t enough to fill her day Debbie is the school nurse now since there aren’t any funds to hire one of their own. She’s had to deal with a recent outbreak of head lice (that sounds familiar) and the added problem that many can’t afford the needed medicine to get rid of them, the clinic can’t afford to give it out for free. Added to that, is the need to get exposed individuals in the household, treated and getting bedding, clothing, etc., washed. If there aren’t laundry facilities in the home the closest laundromat is 30 miles away plus you need a car, gas to go in it and money for the washers once you get there. Households should be thoroughly vacuumed, few people own one and if they do, they probably need bags. And education takes time as well.
This past summer the Rez experienced the death of a child from the hanta virus, some home inspections need to be done to check for rodent droppings but there’s little time to do them unless they’re done during home visits to new mothers or elders. Holes need to be plugged to prevent rodents from entering the home and homes cleaned following the guidelines. Needless to say Debbie’s feeling a little overwhelmed so if you haven’t received a note from her this is why. She wants to thank all of you for your wonderful gifts for the babies and for all the precious time you took to make them.
Lisa from Head Start sends her thanks as well to all who’ve sent donations to her program. The kids are benefiting from your gifts which are being used either in the classroom or sent home with a child in need. One of the mothers of a HS child recently had a baby and Lisa was able to put together a bag to help her new bundle of joy.
Lisa has also been busy testing all the children in the area Head Starts to check their functioning level which will help them work on the skills needed to enter kindergarten. She would like to have educational items to send home with parents so they can work on skills at home and to help reinforce what they’ve learned in the classroom. We’ll try to get a list of needs soon, some of you have already sent in donations she’s using. Once a month someone is coming from the main library of Oglala Lakota College, to read to the HS children and give everyone a book.
The Babyface program is making home visits and using some of your donated baby items for their clients ages 2 weeks to 3 years. They focus on developmental skills that need to be worked on so children function at an appropriate level for their age, parenting skills are also part of the program. Those children found to be behind in their development will be referred for further assessment. We will have a list of needs for this program soon.
I received a letter from Theresa and Jerome High Horse, heads of the Closet Program, saying they’ve been busy with home repair projects, building outhouses with the young men in the community and setting up the wood program for the upcoming winter season. They’re also keeping a lookout for area families that need warm clothing and blankets. We need to point out that for many area residents Theresa and Jerome are the only resource for emergency needs so please, if you have any warm clothing or blankets, they could use them. Clothing items needed are warm coats, hoodies, sweaters, long underwear, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, socks, slippers, shoes, and boots. On a lighter note they’re also planning (and paying for) a Halloween party later this month for the children which should be loads of fun for them.
Well that’s all the news, most of it good, we ARE making a difference. Now we need to ask a big favor from you, patience in regards to thank you notes. All of the programs we work with on both reservations are underfunded and understaffed. Each worker is multi-tasking and probably doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people plus they all have their own families that need attention. Funding has been cut to all the programs or as in the case of Theresa and Jerome’s Closet program, receive no funding at all. They all want you to know how grateful they are to you for sharing your time, talents and treasures with the Lakota people and apologize for not sending out thank you notes in a timely manner, they humbly ask for your patience and understanding. For many of you a thank you isn’t an issue for others it is. We’re working on the best way to get those notes out to you sooner but until then we’re asking you to please get delivery confirmation for your packages so you know they’ve arrived and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope in your box. We hope to have this issue solved soon, please bear with us, we depend on your donations to keep these programs up and running.
From the Lakota Rez folks I say, Wopila Tanka (Big Thank You). And as always thanks from Sew For Kids for your generous contributions.