Thursday, January 26, 2012

2011 Highlights and Annual Report

We are already a month into 2012, but you can read about everything TTL accomplished last year in our 2011 Annual Report!

Here's a snapshot of some 2011 highlights:

1652 Visits made to children’s homes through the Outreach Program to provide nutritional and medical support, as well as training to caregivers

246 Visits by clients to clinics and hospitals, facilitated by TTL

401 Visits made to new and expectant HIV+ mothers to aid in the Prevention of Mother-to- Child Transmission (PMTCT)

36 Trainings/site visits to strengthen the Village Health Worker Network and identify children in need of support

125 HIV + mothers supported in their role as caregivers

183 New child clients served by TTL

158 Child clients who reached health and stability and successfully graduated from the Outreach Program

54 Children rehabilitated in the Safe-home

296 Total number of child clients supported in 2011

978 Total number of TTL child clients served to date

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going Home on a Horse

Goodbyes at TTL are bittersweet. Mamello left the safe-home yesterday, which is really a cause for celebration – it is always great to see kids going back home, healthy and usually a bit chubby, to their families. It is a victory for TTL and the accomplishment of our mission. It is a little selfish of me then, to be disappointed when they go, knowing that I will no longer see their smiling faces pressed up against the playroom window when I walk down to the office and will receive no more of their high fives or hugs. But I admit, every time a child leaves from the safe-home I get a little sad.

Mamello was in the safe-home for about 2 months. She had been malnourished and suffering from symptoms of HIV a few months ago, but by the time she arrived at TTL she was well on her way to becoming healthy, already on ARVs and responding well to them. She came to TTL because her mother had just passed away and was living with her aunt and uncle who were expecting a new baby of their own and didn’t know if they could care for her adequately with a newborn baby (Mamello’s ARVs must be given on a strict schedule). So we were graced with her presence and from the beginning she was goofy, smiley, and energetic. You couldn’t go in the safe-home without her handing you a series of random toys – she didn’t expect them back, she just likes to share.

But alas, the temporary safe-home is indeed only temporary, and yesterday it was time for her to go home. It has been raining a lot recently and we weren’t sure if the roads to her village would be washed out so we arranged with her uncle to meet us at Malefiloane Health Center, about an hour away from TTL. We arrived at one o’clock and her uncle and his horse were there waiting for us, ready to bring Mamello back home. In the past I have only experienced taking kids directly back to their home, so I found it rather interesting/amusing, watching Mamello’s uncle stuff TTL’s food rations (powdered milk, lentils, canned fish and vegetables) and all of Mamello’s acquired possessions (clothes, lotion, soap) into his relatively small saddle bag. When he got it all packed in tight he strapped Mamello to his back with a couple of blankets, hopped on his horse and they rode off into the distance as we shouted our goodbyes. She handled the reunification pretty well – the hand over from us to her uncle – until the horse started actually moving and her cries became audible as they galloped away from us. She seems to be in good hands though and I’m sure will readjust to her new surroundings in no time. It seems that by the time Outreach visits our reunified safe-home kids a week after they leave us they are clinging to their caregivers. A few weeks later they have forgotten us completely. This is how it should be I guess.

Mamello will be missed and the playroom will be calmer with only one kid able to walk by himself and only one toddler who needs fed but we are ready to help the next baby who needs the constant care and support of the safe-home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Impressions

The following post was written by volunteer Tucker Dunn who will be spending 6 weeks at TTL.

My arrival at TTL seemed like it was years in the making. Over the past several years, I have known several people who have taken the time to come down to Mokhotlong to help TTL further its mission, and now, I finally have the opportunity to do the same.

Since arriving, I have tried to immerse myself in the world of TTL as much as possible. Whether I am playing with the babies in the playroom, entering data on the computers, or going on outreach to check in on some of our child clients, I learn more and more about the problems facing many of the communities in Mokhotlong, and what TTL is doing to help alleviate some of these problems. Everyday has been an incredible learning experience.

One thing that has struck me is how committed everyone at TTL is to these children. While the bo’me shoulder most of the responsibility of caring for the children in the safe home, everyone here does their own part to ensure the wellbeing of the children. At various times throughout the day, you can see Nthabeleng going into the playroom to help the bo’me feed the children during lunch time, Tumisang the gardener making faces at the giggling faces pressed up against the playroom window, and Puleng the receptionist slipping into the playroom to partake in a highly spirited and hilarious game of chase with Khathatso and Mamello. Everybody here at TTL has their own role that is essential for TTL to be able to provide the services it does, and it is truly remarkable that everyone finds their own way to brighten the lives of these children on a daily basis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

a lot happens in 2 weeks

With all the excitement of Christmas, followed by two weeks travelling in South Africa, it feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve sat at my desk in the fellows’ office.

Even though I've only been gone a few weeks, a lot has changed while I was away. The days are hotter and mountains greener, TTL's garden is thriving, and the back of the property has become a bit of a construction zone while we repair one of the buildings.

It’s endearing that all the toddlers haven’t forgotten me during my two weeks away – something that seems to happen so quickly once they leave the safe-home and return to their families. All the kids are looking a bit healthier, a bit chubbier, and that much closer to being ready to return home. Some of the babies, like Tsitso, are almost unrecognisable with how much they've changed, a positive sign that he is finally growing like he should. Pelaelo was also able to return home to his mother's care after a 6 week stay in the safe-home.

I was also welcomed back by the smiling face of our newest arrival: Tsebo.

Tsebo has come to the safe-home because he is malnourished and underweight for his 8 months (he currently weighs 5.2kg). He has also been exposed to HIV and we are still waiting on the results of his DNA-PCR test that will help to identify his HIV status. Luckily, his development does not seem to have been too negatively effected by his poor nutrition yet. Unlike our two other 8 months old in the safe-home, Tsebo is constantly grabbing at toys, has no problems sitting by himself and looks ready to start crawling any day now. Hopefully his HIV test will come back negative and with a bit of time on the nutritious safe-home diet of 5 meals a day, he'll be ready to return to his family in no time.