PROVINCETOWN, RHODE ISLAND — Katie Veatch’s upcoming two-week “vacation” to Vietnam could literally save children’s lives.
The certified yoga teacher, who also tends bar and shucks oysters at Townsend’s Lobster & Seafood in Provincetown, is working towards raising the $3,900 she needs to join a group of occupational and physical therapists traveling to Vietnam in December. The group will visit six orphanages there, ranging in size from 50 to 500 children, to teach nurturing touch, baby massage and developmental movement to the orphanage caregivers, many of whom are so overloaded with feeding and diapering the kids that they have little time to interact with them. The country has hundreds of orphanages housing an estimated 1.5 million orphans under the age of seven.
“There are so many kids and so few caregivers,” Veatch says. “We take it for granted, the touch we get all the time. [The orphans] don’t have someone to run to their aid when they’re in need. They don’t have someone to hug them and hold them when they’re under stress.”
The trip is organized by the Liddle Kidz Foundation, a pediatric massage therapy organization that offers a variety of courses to parents and medical and physical therapy professionals. Veatch first learned of the group when she took a class taught by its founder, Tina Allen. When Allen said she was putting together a group of people to travel to Vietnam to work with children and caregivers in orphanages, Veatch immediately volunteered. And she soon won a spot on the 23-person team selected from 700 applicants.
While Veatch is more focused on yoga than massage, the two practices overlap at many junctures. Veatch will be learning pediatric massage techniques and administering them to the children. In addition, Allen wants Veatch to offer yoga classes to the Liddle Kidz volunteers themselves.
“It’s all about movement and body and knowledge of one’s own body. I imagine this trip will be very emotional for everyone. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work with the volunteers and get them centered,” Veatch says.
Because the 23 volunteers won’t be able to spend much time at each of the orphanages in the two weeks they are in Vietnam, one of the goals is also to teach the local caregivers how to touch and massage the children even when they don’t have much time.
“Rubbing a baby’s foot an extra 30 seconds while changing a diaper even helps. The idea is we want to teach them how to use whatever time they have with the children. Through touch, in the long term, it helps bring [the children’s] stress levels down,” she says.
Veatch, who also works as a nanny, wants to bring Allen’s nurturing touch training back to Cape Cod, combining it with yoga techniques to work with parents of special needs children, teenage and adoptive parents and families with seriously ill children. But first she has to raise the funds necessary to pay for the Vietnam trip. Towards that end, some friends who work at the Nor’East Beer Garden in Provincetown are donating their tips this Saturday to Veatch, who also will be a guest bartender at the outdoor restaurant that evening. In addition, Veatch has set up an e-mail account to accept donations, SendVeatchtoVietnam@gmail.com
“I want to teach parents how to have a better relationship with their child,” she says, “and the child to have a better relationship with the world.”
There are millions of infants and children worldwide who are struggling to live to their fullest potential. Would you like an opportunity to bring nurturing touch and pediatric massage to orphaned and displaced children around the globe?
Do you wish to share your skills with children who are affected by Cerebral Palsy, AIDS/HIV, landmines, Agent Orange, developmental disabilities, genetic birth defects, mental and emotional trauma?
Just ask yourself . . . can one person make a difference?
Take this moment to make a difference in the life of a child.
Apply now to be part of our next international volunteer team . . .you too, can be a Liddle Kidz Ambassador!