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Friends Indeed Come to Children in Need

If somebody comes on a welfare mission on her birthday, it means she does want to help. In our case the woman’s name is Nancy Press, Occupational Therapist from Long Beach, California and she worked in Moldova as a member of JHI (Jewish Health International) team, which included three more women no less devoted to children with special needs. The others are Linda Nathanson-Lippitt, Pediatrician (Special Needs) from Atlanta, Georgia and two Israelis - Malka Stoler, Physical Therapist and Vicky Petrov, Speech Pathologist. As always, the translation and interpretation for the mission was performed by Hesed volunteer doctors Elena Deseatnicova and Octavian Cenusa, the logistics was provided by JHI Coordinator for Moldova Natalia Alhazova. It was the third JHI Pediatric mission based on the experience of the previous two and moral support and donation of Susan Schriber-Orloff, OTR/L from Atlanta, Georgia.



The mission took place on June 21-28, 2009 and was synchronized with NES Jewish Family Service integration camp called Jewish Home in which it spent three days. Among 89 people in the camp, 32 were kids with special needs, who received maximum attention, care and advice from JHI medical professionals. Though the camp had an extremely rich program, for these children and their parents JHI consulting and training became the highlights of the retreat and could compete only with time in the swimming pool, which was everybody’s dream on a hot day. Business and pleasure went hand in hand and there was no face that would bear no smile. The JHI team also provided an orientation seminar to the camp staff (15 persons) and gave seminars to teachers in Chisinau (27 people) and doctors in Tiraspol (37 participants). Lecturing on hyperactivity and attention deficit (ADHD), sensory integration and non-verbal communication was combined with much needed advice on handling a young cerebral palsy child at home, making and using mobiles devices and adaptive equipment for seating. The audience button-holed the lecturers requesting for more information and asking numerous questions.

Especially attentive were the participants to the speech therapist Dr. Vicky Petrov who was presenting on oral-motor and feeding treatment and other related topics. It was both due to the content, novelty of the material, numerous speech therapists in the audience and the fact that the presenter was ready to do it in Russian. Dr. Linda Nathanson, besides teaching teachers, spent half a day in the Jewish Library with a Children Day Program consulting and screening vision; everybody had fun. Malka Stoler and Nancy Press formed a wonderful duo with complimentary distribution giving lots of practical advice, simple and easy to implement - if you know about them. The JHI team was in Mother-and-Child Center and met Dr. Maria Gotonaga, not only to get acquainted with the state of children healthcare in Moldova, but also to visit Senya Litvak, NES beneficiary with a very complicated diagnosis, one of the two cases ever in the whole of Moldova.


“When the work is done, go have your fun.” The work was done perfectly and, therefore, in the evenings the group enjoyed a concert with Nelly Ciobanu, who had represented Moldova in the Eurovision competition, as well as Khachaturean’s ballet Cipollino and Puccini’s La Boheme in the Opera Theater. Other things they enjoyed were Jewish Museum (coordinator Dorina Shlaien) and Moldovan cuisine, which was highly praised at the summation dinner with the JDC Representative Mickey Katsif. To conclude on a serious note, JHI professionals came up with numerous recommendations, one of them being to find a way to help children with special needs on a regular basis and not only when there is a mission or there is extreme need.

Report by JHI Coordinator for Moldova Natalia Alhazova.