Before arriving in Mokhotlong, I was aware that “outreach” was a key component of the TTL mission. But I didn’t quite appreciate what that meant until experiencing it firsthand. This week, however, TTL may have “accidentally” saved three lives just because of outreach. Some explanation is in order.
Outreach is not glamorous. It involves driving for hours on some of the worst roads you can imagine. Trips often take 2-3 hours. At times, the roads are so bad that even the Land Cruiser – built to handle punishment - can go only 5-10 km/hour. These are bumpy, hit-your-head-on-the-ceiling sort of rides.
At the end of these rides, a TTL outreach team – consisting of one to two outreach workers and a driver – will usually see one or two clients in a rural village. A visit can consist of anything from delivering some formula to a HIV positive mother so she doesn’t have to breastfeed (thereby increasing the chance of passing along HIV to her baby), to bringing a baby back to the safe-home for rehabilitation. There was a little of both this week.
Many of these visits are planned and occur regularly. For these clients, there is no substitute for TTl. Without TTL, the mothers would not get formula, the babies would likely deteriorate slowly in their homes until death, and other services – otherwise available from the government or international organizations - would be inaccessible to those in the remote villages. There is usually no one else visiting these areas. There is no way around the long drives that others don’t want to take.
Much of this I already knew. But these outreach trips – in addition to serving the clients TTL has already identified – are also crucial to finding others in need. Three lives directly affected by TTL intervention this week were all “accidental.”
One baby – Tholang (who Bridget wrote about earlier)– we found just because we happened to be in his village, 3 hours from the nearest hospital. Severely malnourished, he is doing much better after just 4 days, smiling, alert, and eating well.
TTL also “stumbled upon” a pregnant woman on a separate visit. Orphaned by both her parents, 18 years old and un-wed, she had not had any pre-natal care and was nine-months pregnant. She was scared and ashamed, hardly able to look at the outreach workers when she talked. TTL transported her to the hospital, and we heard yesterday that she delivered a healthy baby girl. Te report of healthy mother and healthy baby got quite a few smiles around TTL.
These cases – the ones that we didn’t even know about at the beginning of the week – really resonated with me as evidence of the value of TTL’s approach. Pretty cool stuff.