Hello, my name is Martha Fuechsel and I joined the Special Hope Network team a year ago. Coming in, I was not sure what to expect. We all create a picture from what we hear in the news, learn in school, and from the pictures we see of what a country in Africa could look like, and what a program for kids with disabilities in a developing country would be like.
On my first day, I walked into our Community Care Centers and saw mothers dancing, children laughing and clapping, teachers enthusiastic and smiling. That beautiful and memorable glimpse showed me what Special Hope Network is all about.
One of the most important lessons I have learned, and have so much more to learn about, is the beauty of people coming together with their different strengths, abilities and backgrounds. God does not call us to be every type of person for everyone in the world. He calls us to be who we are and use our individual passions and gifts. Special Hope Network is not about one person, it is not about a few people, it is about a group of willing people coming together to serve children with intellectual disabilities.
I walk into Special Hope and see the gardener who uses his gift to ensure that our grounds are safe. I smell the food coming from the kitchen that is being prepared by the kitchen ladies. I walk by and hear teachers who are patiently, enthusiastically, and lovingly teaching our children and parents. I hear mothers who are choosing to learn more with their children. We have our managers, financial manager, and executive directors who are working daily to improve our programs. We have helpers in the community, taxi drivers, and social workers who monitor our children’s health. We have prayer warriors all around the world, donors, and people willing to send materials that improve our programs. The list goes on and on! But what I have learned is that each person is as important as the other. As a whole, we are able to serve children with intellectual disabilities. Every day, I get to be a part of this team and work alongside some incredible people. Every day, children with intellectual disabilities are being loved, cared for, and those around them are becoming more educated on disabilities.
Before I came here, I had just finished my Master’s in Special Education from Mary Washington University and was not sure what to expect. I had so many questions. What are the different programs? Would they be taking data? Would moms be excited about learning about their children? Were there materials? What type of kids would I be working with? Yes! I am happy to share that Special Hope special education programs are truly incredible. Children are being taught in programs that match their abilities and their own individual goals. Teachers are using special education strategies (positive reinforcement, direct instruction, token boards, etc.) to teach their students. Parents are being trained and being taught how to care and nurture growth in their children. However, what sets Special Hope Network apart from many others, is their continuing commitment to innovation and improving the quality of our programs, the education of our students and mothers, and the desire
to spread awareness to our community.