Marie and I have been sharing this morning about our joys and tribulations as missionaries in Papua New Guinea, and it was interesting to note, that our joys are actually our tribulations when handled correctly. One of these challenges for us was to have to raise a special needs child in our family. Many have been asking us about our daughter Madeleen and how she is doing and so I thought of dedicating this newsletter to information about her.
So what are we talking about.
Madeleen is mildly autistic, which affects her social interaction, communication, and behavior. It started to show as a baby, with her reaching her milestones late, and become more prominent as she grew older. She had many sensory issues with touch, sounds, smell and certain tastes. She has restricted interests, and also picked up on repetitive behavioral or OCD issues. As she grew into her teenage years she demonstrated a lot of emotional struggles with being part of her peers, she struggled to communicate and often demonstrated unusual behavior in public.
For us, as missionaries, it was very challenging as parents to bring up a child with autism in the jungles of PNG, especially in that we did not understand the issues at first. We experienced many emotions throughout these 18 years. At first, we felt pressure in the sense that we wanted her to do well in school and socially. We felt concern in that we were sorry for her and we’re not sure how to help her. We experienced frustration and often this manifested in anger, which again results in guilt. We experienced a lot of anxiety in that we were wondering if this might remove us out of the ministry and wondered how and where she would function as an adult.
Even though we know the truths and promises God teaches us in his word, we do struggle with many emotions and will appreciate your prayers for both us and Madeleen.
We cannot return with Madeleen to Papua New Guinea. Kids only can get a visa as dependents until they are 18, then they need to leave home or apply for work permits and work in the country. Obviously, this is not something that can work for Madeleen, so we need to place Madeleen in a special home in South Africa where she can live and function, while we return to Papua New Guinea.
At this moment Madeleen is close to completing a trial period at Camphill Village close to Malmesbury in South Africa. This is a dynamic community working with intellectually challenged adults, and we appreciate the inclusive approach to life, which offers them purpose and dignity. The Village is set on a farm and can accommodate about 80 to 90 adults.
They have been farming organically for more than 30 years, with cows that are milked daily and the milk is then processed in Camphill’s dairy for village use and for the dairy products which they sell, which includes, yogurt and cheese etc. In the organic garden, they grow a wide range of herbs to supply their herbal workshops and to sell, and organic vegetables to supply to the village houses and to sell through selected Cape Town retailers. Residents are involved in all aspects of the farm, growing vegetables, maintaining the herb gardens, and working with the animals.
Madeleen and other residents live in a group home. There are 13 group homes spread around the village each with between 6 and 12 residents. These homes are an extended family environment where people with special needs, the group home leaders and their children, and young volunteers live in a life-sharing situation. There is a wide range of capabilities, as well as disabilities in each group home, so life is managed co-operatively. I appreciate that group home leaders encourage a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance, and help residents to take initiative and develop their social skills. Residents are taught basic housekeeping skills such as ironing, cleaning, and preparation of meals. Some residents are able to cook meals for the house with the supervision of the domestic team leader. A domestic team leader comes in every day to assist the group home leader with the running of the group home and to work with residents.
– Check out their website at Camphill-village
– Also some youtube clips available on their channel at Camphill YouTube channel
– Befriend them on Facebook at Camphill Facebook page
It cost us about 10 000 Rand a month to let Madeleen live at Camphill, that includes, the fee to Camphill but also covering other needs such as medical etc. The South African social services offer a tiny disability subsidy towards this, which is not enough. So at this stage, we are covering her costs out of our Mengen support. We have noticed that certain supporters are interested in helping Madeleen, so we would like to share some details about how you can do this. If you would like to help sponsor Madeleen then it will help us and the Mengen work! We are so thankful to one of our supporting churches who has helped cover the costs for a chunk of her first year.
At this moment donations towards Madeleen can be made into our South African account at:
– Standard Bank
– Account number – 238403122
Or if you’re in international supporter you can make a donation via any of the NTM or ethnos websites, specifying that it’s for Madeleen.
This move to Camphill has deeply impacted both me and Marie. Our family has been deeply touched by these people and they have learned us many lessons, about contentment, love, joy, and happiness. So we would want to encourage you guys to:
– Visit Camphill and Madeleen during their market days.
– Contact Camphill to see how you or your church can practically help, with maintenance etc.
– Help Madeleen with Occupational and ABA therapy as well as social skills classes and spiritual discipleship.
Thanks so much for being part of the Mengen work also in this way!