Sunday, March 7, 2010

Update on the Babies


For one reason or another our phone line hasn't worked for the last week, meaning our super-slow dial-up Internet connection hasn't worked either. Ah well. TIA.

Anyway, last week was a busy one for the safe house.

First, Rapelang, the one-year-old boy pictured here, went home last weekend after about 7 months here.

Although his mother passed away when he was only a few months old, he thankfully still had a family to go home to. On Sunday he headed back to Thaba Tseka, the district where he is from, with some of our outreach workers. He was dressed in a new outfit and brand new shoes (which you can see in the photo). He didn't like the shoes at first because he couldn't walk in them, but he got used to them.

I'd gotten relatively close with Rapelang in just two weeks, and when I first carried him out to the car and handed him to one of the outreach workers, he screamed and began to cry, reaching toward me to take him back. I did for a few minutes as the outreach workers continued preparing to leave, and he buried his face in my neck and pouted. But then I had to hand him over again.

It was sad, and I'll miss him around the safe house. He was one of my first buddies here. He has a good laugh and a sweet demeanor.

But I know he has gone back to where he belongs as a healthy young boy, and that soon he will be running around his village with his own pack of friends, just like all the kids I see around town here in Mokhotlong. We'll continue checking up on him, and I think he will be happy.

Even with Rapelang's departure, the number of babies here remains at eight.

Midweek last week, a new baby named Liteboho arrived with a severe cough after having been discharged from the local hospital. His very young mother didn't know what to do with him, as he still seemed quite sick, so we took him on as our newest safe house resident. We'll be administering his medicines prescribed by the hospital doctor and hopefully nursing him back to good health.

He's a tough little guy who seems to be dealing with his wheezing OK for now, but hopefully he won't have to deal with it for much longer.

In other news, Seithati -- the almost three-year-old girl I wrote about before who we found malnourished at a rural clinic -- seems to be getting better and better. Since she got here she has become more talkative and engaged. She is still tiny for her age, but hopefully she'll start packing on some pounds. She is really smart.

She now screams quite a lot, not in a whining way but in a playful way. It's such a far cry from when we picked her up and she was so sullenly silent for a three year old. It may be that she was so malnourished before that vocalizing at all took too much energy. And now that's she's getting better, she's letting out everything that's been pent up in her for so long, hidden behind her lethargy. With that mindset it's difficult to get tired of her screaming, which shoots out of the play room and fills the office regularly.

Thuso, the other little toddler I've gotten close to, is still rambunctious and funny. He gets pretty difficult just before lunch when he's hungry, but other than that he's pretty happy. He chows down whatever he's offered in the way of food -- the other day I fed him his lunch of papa, sweet potato and beans -- and is super curious about cameras and cell phones and anything else he can possibly break.

When I first got here he would cry whenever I got anywhere close to him, but now he often walks right over to me when I walk into the play room and screams, 'Ntate!', which is how everyone greets men here. I think I've officially won him over.

The rest of the little babies all seem to be happy and doing relatively well also. Our youngest, three-month-old Nthati, is still tiny but seems healthily curious about his surroundings. I fed him a bottle the other day and he drank until it was half empty -- a good sign.

All in all, a lot going on in Baby World!

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