Friday, March 30, 2012

Meet Mamello

Meet Mamello. She joined us in the safe-house two days ago. There's something about that smile that really gets to me. Beautiful, isn't it? Yesterday, Mamello and I spent a good part of the day looking at all the old pictures on my camera. Once she figured out how to scroll through the photos, she couldn't get enough. Every time she'd come across an old picture of my cat she look up at me with a smile and a giggle. It is such a privilege to be able to share such a simple moment of joy with a child like Mamello. In this small interaction, she showed so much strength and determination to win the battles she is fighting.

Mamello spent the past few weeks in the hospital due to severe malnutrition. She's HIV positive and comes from a child-run household...meaning her parents died of HIV and a young aunt is now tasked with raising Mamello and her siblings. Because of her malnutrition and untreated HIV, Mamello is extremely weak and spends most of the day lying on her side watching the other little ones play. But each day, I'll try to find something new to bring out that beautiful smile. And before we all know it, Mamello will be the one we're all marveling at as she dances around the room.
Since I initially wrote this post, Mamello has returned to the hospital to undergo another round of treatment for malnutrition and to begin an ARV regiment. All her little friends and all the staff at TTL eagerly await her return to the safe-house.

Monday, March 26, 2012

1000 and counting

Life has been continuing its busy pace at TTL during February and March and unfortunately because of our faulty internet connection, we haven’t been able to provide many updates!

Alongside all the outreach visits and comings and goings in the safe-home, TTL hit an important milestone this month: since our start in 2004, TTL has supported over 1000 children.

Perhaps what is most significant about this milestone is not the number itself but that TTL didn’t even skip a beat and just kept on going. I knew that TTL would reach its 1000th child sometime this month but by the time I had a chance to check our numbers, we already had 1012 children on our books. Ask around at TTL, and except for the few of us who play around with TTL’s statistics, probably none of the staff could tell you that we had hit this incredible milestone. But ask them to tell you about the individual children TTL supports and stories will abound. In the end that really is the strength of what TTL does – it’s not about numbers but rather ensuring that every vulnerable child TTL reaches receives the personalised support they need and deserve to make a full recovery. So in recognition of this important event, here are some stories of just a handful of the new clients TTL started supporting over the past few weeks.

Liteboho is a 4 ½ year old girl who was referred to TTL because she is malnourished. Currently she is being cared for by her grandmother because her mother has left to go find work in South Africa. Her grandmother is also caring for three other children, two who are under the age of five, and so resources are stretched very thin.

Relekane was referred to TTL by the Chief in his village because he is malnourished and underweight for his 1 ½ years of age. He is still being cared for by both his parents but there is no stable source of income and there are 10 people in the household, seven of whom are under 18.

Retsepile is a 5 month old boy whose mother is suffering from HIV-related illnesses and struggling to care for him. Retsepile is exposed to HIV but luckily his first test has come back negative. Hopefully with TTL’s support his development and growth will stay on track.

Nteboheng is a 11 month old girl who was referred to TTL by the nurse at St. Martin and immediately brought to the safe-home and admitted to hospital. She is severely malnourished, HIV + and recently started ARVs. She is now back in the safe-home where hopefully her recovery will continue as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Any one of these children could be TTL’s special 1000th client, but what will be an even better event is the day that each one of these children meet their personal milestone of being healthy and strong enough to graduate from TTL.

Monday, March 19, 2012

arriving in mokhotlong

TTL has unfortunately been experiencing internet difficulties over the last month so sorry for the lack of updates! A lot has been happening including the arrival of TTL's newest Fellow Julie Wheaton.

Hello! My name is Julie and I’m the newest Fellow here at Touching Tiny Lives. Upon learning that I would have the privilege to work with Touching Tiny Lives, I hit the internet to see what I could find out about the little mountain town of Mokhotlong. Throughout my research, one sentence stood out like a flashing neon sign: “The bleakness of Mokhotlong will either charm or scare you.” From the introduction I received from the previous fellows, I knew I would fall into the “charmed” category, but this sentence peaked my interest, nonetheless. While I drove into Mokhotlong in the darkness of night, I was greeted the next morning by the sun illuminating the stunning mountains that surround TTL and Mokhotlong. Charmed, I was! I come to TTL from Seattle, Washington, one of my favorite things about this city being the mountains that cradled it – the Olympics to the West and the Cascades to the East. As I adjust to life in Mokhotlong, I am thankful for this similarity between my past and current home.

In the short time since that first impression of Mokhotlong, I have come to learn many things about Lesotho and the people who live here. I have seen the strength and determination of the Basotho people as they stand in opposition to the HIV/AIDS epidemic – a direct reflection of the strength of the mountains that surround them.

In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to learning more from each experience I have here at Touching Tiny Lives and I look forward to sharing these experiences with you.