This afternoon, as four o'clock edged closer, things were slow in the office and I decided to see what was up with the babies.
I found them and the bo'me outside in the sun, on the swings behind the safe-home and playing by the slide. I pushed Selloane and Neo in the swings for a bit, and the afternoon felt unencumbered and light and happy. After a while they were out of the swings and looking for their next adventure. Soon it was a race between them, Karabo and Ntseliseng as all four decided it was their chance to explore the TTL grounds.
Along with a few of the bo'me, and later with Eric as well, the four girls and I ran around the property, laughing and playing. I caught them when they fell and cheered them on when they walked independently.
Not long ago, Karabo was only crawling. Ntseliseng was barely moving at all. Neo had a sort of bent over, all-fours walk she did, but that was about it.
Now Neo is taking off in quick strides, Ntseliseng has started taking steps all on her own, and Karabo isn't far behind. Their progress is amazing, and seeing it in full display made the afternoon that much more special.
Around 4:45 we called it an afternoon and brought everyone inside.
Minutes later, as often happens here, the struggles of the greater Mokhotlong world suddenly appeared at our doorstep once more, shattering the bubble of smiles.
One of our outreach teams arrived with an 11-month-old boy, Boraki, who only weighs 4.3 kg, or less than 10 pounds.
The last thing written in his Bukana is, "No food security at home. TTL please assist."
Boraki was exposed to HIV through his mother, but his tests haven't come back yet to tell us his status. He breastfed for seven days after birth, but then switched to a mixture of sour porridge, papa and formula from a rural clinic.
That pattern has done him no good. He's such a tiny little boy.
Along with the four older girls, he joins our other tiny two, Mpho and Nthabiseng, who have both lost a twin to death but who are fighting on themselves.
Here's hoping Boraki is lucky number seven.