Tuesday, September 6, 2011

first goodbyes

With so many new and exciting things that happen when you move somewhere different or start a new project, this week seems surprisingly to be marked by a lot of things ending. Some of them good (I have finally gotten over my first bout of head cold/sickness in Lesotho) and some of them sad (the lovely team of volunteer nurses –Eric, Mary and Marshall- that have been keeping me company will be leaving at the end of the week). It’s been great having them around the past few weeks. I think Khutliso our one boy in the safehome has enjoyed having some male playmates for a while and it’s been wonderful to have people around who can help explain some of the more in-depth medical issues to me. Some of you may have seen Marshall's blog about their experiences in Mokhotlong here: http://traveltoafricawithme.com/blog/
Also by the end of this week, all but one of the kids who were in the safehome when I first arrived will be gone. Relekane – one of the most relaxed and sweet-natured toddlers I have ever met - returned to her family on Friday. Khutliso and Retsipile Lekhooa are also both due to be leaving by the end of the week. The departure of children from the safehome is a funny thing. I can’t help but a feel a bit (selfishly) sad that the babies will be leaving and I won’t be able to come and visit them in the playroom anymore. The medical volunteers and I also can’t help but speculate on how the other safehome kids must feel when one of their playmates leave. Lerato arrived at TTL only a week before me and so these three were also her first friends here. Lerato and Khutliso seem to have become particularly close, chasing each other around the playroom and sitting side by side at meal time. Acting like the big sister, Lerato has more than once returned a toy to Khutliso that one of the other kids had stolen (almost always that other kid being Retsipile). We all wonder how she will adjust once the others are gone.
However, above all else, these departures from the safehome are a time for celebration. The fact that another child – or in this case three- have become healthy and strong enough to return to their family are the critical achievements that make TTL such a successful model. Once home, they will continue to be supported by TTL’s Outreach team with frequent health checks as well as the provision of food and medical supplies. It’s by returning children to their families that TTL’s model remains a sustainable one. TTL brings resources out to communities, supporting families to raise healthy children while also providing that essential safety net, the safehome, for the most critical cases. And with each healthy child that leaves the safehome and later graduates from the Outreach program, TTL is able to shift resources in order to help that next child in a critical health situation. Because as Nthabeleng has been telling me from day one, we all know there are many more children out there that just haven’t been identified yet.

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