Christmas Spirit Fills the Heart at Little Eden
Little Eden, home for children with intellectual disabilities, hosts a Christmas concert every year where residents have a chance to show off their abilities through the spirit of our Saviour, writes ERIN CARELSE
The Christmas concerts at Little Eden in Gauteng always are the highlight of the year, every year, not only for the residents but for the guests who attend. The concerts are a celebration of the achievements and milestones of the year and an opportunity for the residents to demonstrate their abilities and share new skills.
This year is special for the Little Eden Society, which was established 50 years ago by the late Domitilla and Danny Hyams to give care to children with intellectual disabilities. Licensed with the Department of Health, Little Eden is a registered non-profit organisation with two homes, in Edenvale and Bapsfontein, Gauteng.
The Christmas Concert
Little Eden’s Christmas concerts are held over four days at both of their homes to which their supporters are invited. The music therapists from both centres work with residents and staff over a period of months to put these magical concerts together.
There is a new concert theme each year and the traditional nativity scenes are creatively weaved into it. This year’s theme for the Edenvale home is “Little Eden Stars”; the theme for the Home in Bapsfontein is “The 4 Elements”.
The concerts at both of the homes always have the same joyful spirit shining through, leaving audiences with no doubt that the children and adults at Little Eden know how to make the best of life despite their disabilities. “These concerts give the public a perspective into the abilities of the residents rather than focus on their disability,” said Lucy Slaviero, Little Eden’s CEO and a daughter of Mr and Mrs Hyam.
Importantly, she added, the involvement and participation of the public “indicates to the residents that they are important”.
“These concerts form a fun element and contribute to the care and stimulation therapy programme throughout the year. Through the programme — which includes physiotherapy, music therapy, reflexology, animal therapy and hydrotherapy — we are able to assist residents to reach their full potential,” she explained. As a result of the programme, “some residents learn to walk, to talk, to feed themselves, to make sounds, push their own wheelchairs, and so on”, Mrs Slaviero said.
Jesus Loves Them Profoundly
Nichollette Muthige, Little Eden’s communications officer, said one of her most memorable moments took place at their 2014 Christmas concert.
“One of our residents, 32-year-old Paul, who has been with Little Eden since he was three years old, sang a solo. The title of his song was ‘Jesus Loves Me’. By the time he was done, there was not a dry eye in the room,” she recalled.
“It was not so much about how he perfectly hit the notes, or that he remembered the lyrics, but more the message in the song and how Paul sang it with so much conviction for someone who had been in a wheelchair all his life. He has had to rely on the next person for all his needs, but still believes that Jesus loves him,” she said.
Paul is just one of many children and adults with a profound intellectual disability at Little Eden — all needing special care every day of the year.
The Grace of Little Eden
Little Eden was launched in 1967 to provide respite care to mothers of children with profound intellectual disabilities. It started as a day-care facility caring for just three little girls.
Today Little Eden is a full-time care home for 300 children and adults. The Domitilla and Danny Hyams Home in Edenvale serves 180 residents, and Elvira Rota Village in Bapsfontein has 120 residents.
The Edenvale home caters more at the level of frail care as well as having a full therapy programme.
The Bapsfontein home places a greater emphasis on participation in activities of daily living: the ability to feed oneself (though not necessarily to prepare food); personal hygiene such as bathing, grooming and oral care; the ability to make appropriate clothing decisions and dress oneself; maintaining continence (both the mental and physical ability to use a toilet); and transferring, which refers to the ability of moving oneself from seated to standing positions and getting in and out of bed.
For more information visit www.littleeden.org.za or phone 011 609-7246.
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