Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ups and Downs

Here at TTL, our motto is "One Child at a Time."

I remember that every time I think about the constantly evolving roster of babies in the safe home.

Here's another update:

Mosele, a seven-month old girl from the St. Martin area with a giant smile and sparkling eyes, went home today after spending three months in the safe home. She got here on December 23 after TTL found her severely malnourished. Her mother was severely ill at the time and didn't have the capacity to care for her.

Today, it's a different story. Mosele's mother has recovered, Mosele is in good health, and they are reunited. Another TTL victory!

Our success in helping Mosele follows sad news from last week, when another tiny little girl passed away just a day after coming under TTL's care. She was severely malnourished and dehydrated, had a rash all over her body and was presumed HIV positive. Our outreach team in the neighboring Thaba Tseka district found her and brought her halfway to Mokhotlong, where one of our local outreach teams met them to bring her the rest of the way. One of our caregivers spent the night with her in the hospital, and Kirsten spent a chunk of the night and a chunk of the morning there as well, trying to rehydrate the tiny girl without overwhelming her heart -- a tricky thing to do with the little resources available in Mokhotlong and the shape she was already in.

Unfortunately, that morning, she passed away. Her dehydrated state was too much for her to overcome.

Deaths like hers are the saddest part of what we do here, and really show you just how close some of the babies we help are to death. I wish we had found her sooner. Frustration is alive and well when these things happen, but it helps drive our desire for successes like Mosele's.

Back on that note, just as we gained some space with Mosele's departure this morning, another baby arrived.

Ithateng is a small three-month-old girl who has horrible oral thrush. As an existing client from the Malefiloane area, one of our outreach teams had gone to perform a regular monthly check up on her when they realized she wasn't doing well and needed more thorough and immediate help. So, they brought her back to the safe house.

She drank half a bottle soon after arriving here, and we've already started giving her medicine for the thrush -- purple drops that make her gums purple as well. She's really cute and I think her time here will do wonders for her health and well-being.

I think Thuso might be going home soon himself, which will be sad in a way but also another success story. He is thriving and has come so far from where he was a few short months ago, when he couldn't walk at all. Seithati is still getting bigger and stronger. She just now walked down the hallway between the playroom and the babies' bedroom to say good night to me after I popped my head out of the office. "Ntate," she said, smiling as I picked her up. Now that's a nice way to end a work day.

Nteboheng, our oldest child in the safe home at almost five years old, who I just recently wrote about, is getting better and better as well -- despite the fact that her CD4 count last week was an astoundingly low 6. For reference, kids her age are considered to have a severe CD4 suppression when their count goes below 500.

Still, yesterday she was dancing to the rhythmic singing of the bo'me, and today she couldn't hold back her smile after I told her I was going to take her picture. She's opening up -- a great sign!

More than anything else, these ups and downs in the safe home are what strike closest to home for me. They make this HIV epidemic we are fighting and the malnutrition that is all too common in this country so real, so in your face, so immediate. They instill in me the most appreciation for what TTL is doing on a regular basis.

Up or down, it is like our motto goes: "One Child at a Time."

And then another…and then another…


pops said...

Good stuff, Kevin. I've made your blog my homepage. It's a great mix of the serious, the fun, and the inspirational ... just like you. Carpe diem.

merf said...

Any chance of getting pictures of these sweet children? Would love to put names with faces. Thank you for introducing us!!