Friday, September 21, 2012

The Week in Photos: Spring, Safe-home Arrivals, M&E, and Outreach

A lot happens around TTL in one week. Babies make great strides toward recovery...the Outreach Team brings life-saving care to families in rural villages...and we work to understand how we can continue to meet the needs of the children of Lesotho. I thought I'd share a bit about our week through a few photos.
Reitumetse arrived at the safe-home late last week. Understandably, it takes babies a little time to adjust to the safe-home...being away from home, their mama, and everything they've known is certainly confusing.

Add on top of that feeling pretty sick and tired and Reitumetse's first few days consisted of a lot of watching the other babies crawl around and trying to figure out how exactly this place works.

Spring weather and the chance to enjoy the fresh air makes for some happy babies. 

Although peach blossoms can be pretty memorizing, it turns out the big truck at the construction site across the street is even more so. 

Thankfully, I was able to get Seabonga's big brown eyes to look at me for just a second to get this photo.
Nine month old Tlotlisang arrived last week, as well.

There's something about her that reminds me of a baby bird.

Her little body feels so skinny, bony, and frail, but she's very happy and alert nonetheless.

No matter which direction she's facing, she needs to know what's going on behind her.

Of course, flipping yourself upside down is the easiest way to accomplish that task.

We met this man, the grandfather of one of our former clients, while out in rural village with our monitoring and evaluation team; TTL recently embarked on a massive effort to evaluate the effectiveness of our services and understand client outcomes.

When we approached, this man was perched outside his rondaval slowly weaving blades of grass and thatch into a long, thin rope. 

He continued to expertly weave his rope as he told of his experiences working with TTL and how thankful he is that his grandchild is now healthy.
I love this photo because it illustrates how traveling the rough roads of Lesotho often teetering on the edge of the world...with the sky so close you feel as if you could touch it.

Yes, that's the same little Reitumetse from above. 

Just a few days of good meals and a little bit of time to adjust and we were graced with that beautiful smile.
And of course, nothing brings out those smiles faster than 'dijo' - food - at snack time.

A good tickle brings out the smiles pretty quickly too.

Renang, who has been in the safe-home for about a month, improves each day.

His laugh is something I look forward to hearing each day.
The week concluded with an outreach trip to one of the most remote areas in which we work.

Because these villages are so isolated and hard to reach we seem to have a lot of clients in this area; families often don't seem to have access to the resources and services they need.

Mark, a medical student volunteer, provided some helpful insight into the fact that this little guy's condition - his malnutrition is so severe that his body cannot fight off the persistent cough that has been racking his body for the past few months. We brought him into the safe-home to aid in his recovery.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Babies, Missing Parents, and Food Insecurity in Lesotho

Abandoned, exposed, malnourished – these are the words our outreach worker Mantja uses to describe the child she has just brought to the safe-home. Her words are succinct partially because of a language barrier but also because sometimes there’s nothing else to say.

It’s 6:30pm and we’re driving through the already dark streets of town so I can drop Mantja off at home after her eleven hour work day. She tells me the mother just left her village while her eight month old daughter, Tlotlisang, was at a neighbours playing with some friends. 

It’s hard to imagine and yet it’s a story that I’ve heard many times since I arrived in Lesotho a little over a year ago.  Mothers and fathers seemingly abandon their children in search of something better outside of the hard life in the villages – most often in hopes of finding some kind of income in South Africa.

This little girl joins another boy who arrived in the safe-home this afternoon.  Probably around 20 months (he has no health records), his mother has also left him to go to South Africa. His swollen legs and feet are signs of his severe malnourishment and protein deficiency. Tomorrow he will go to the hospital to be examined and tested for HIV exposure. But for tonight he’s eaten his whole dinner and is quick to crack a smile - the best signs we can hope for in a child’s first night in the safe-home.

This afternoon I also heard about a call Outreach received about a mother and baby who require TTL’s help. The mother and child are both critically ill and need to come to the hospital. M’e Nthabeleng sarcastically jokes that their treating TTL like an ambulance service. They should really be calling the hospital but everyone knows TTL can get there much faster and so tomorrow the Outreach team will go.  

Today was a day of celebration in the safe-home, three babies were being reunited with their families. And somehow just as quickly three new babies have come to replace them.

A month ago as we planned out the reunification schedule for the safe-home it seemed like we were soon going to be left with only a few little ones. I thought back to when I arrived last August and, after a busy July, there were only four babies in the playroom. I thought maybe this was a cycle the safe-home went through. But this year, I guess that won’t be the case.

Lesotho recently declared a national food security emergency. Another recent statistic identifies Lesotho as one of only four countries in the world where nearly 100 percent of the population is projected to remain food insecure for the next ten years. As always, it will be the most vulnerable – those living with HIV, orphans, and children under-five – who will suffer the most.

It’s a constant struggle to eke out any kind of livelihood in Lesotho – particularly in the highland districts. It makes me grateful that TTL’s Outreach workers – and all its staff – are willing to put in the extra hours to ensure each child receives the support it needs and help families through what can at times feel like an endless period of struggle against food insecurity and HIV/AIDS in this beautiful mountain kingdom. 

I originally wrote this post last Monday but after a busier than normal week am just finding the time to post it now. The third child who needed to come to the hospital with her mother is now in the safe-home. While she has not started to show signs of improvement as quickly as Tlotlisang and Seabonga, we are all hoping that this week will be better than the last.  

Seabonga - one of the safe-home's newest arrivals. Despite his poor health, he is always quick to crack a smile and laugh. His grin reminds me of Tsepang (below) a little boy who spent some time in the safe-home a few months back to recover from TB and malnutrition. Here's hoping Seabonga's recovery will be just as quick.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Go Irish!

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that there are some issues with the original email address we provided.  If you're interested in football tickets, please email Reid at  We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your support of TTLF!
We have some very exciting news for all you Notre Dame fans out there!  The Touching Tiny Lives Foundation has tickets available to several Notre Dame football games this season!  Tickets are available for purchase, with all proceeds going directly the Touching Tiny Lives Foundation.

The following tickets are available:

Notre Dame v. Brigham Young: 4 tickets (2 in the faculty section between the 10 and 20 yard line; and 2 in section 112) 

Notre Dame v. Pitt: 6 tickets (2 in the faculty section between the 10 and 20 yard line; and 4 together in section 130) 

Notre Dame v. Wake Forest: 6 tickets (2 in the faculty section between the 10 and 20 yard line; and 4 together in section 112)

Notre Dame v. Stanford: 4 tickets (4 in the faculty section)

All of the tickets have a face value of $73 (except Stanford, which have face value of $83) and the suggested minimum contribution for the tickets is $100 per ticket, but anything more will be gratefully received. If you are interested in scoring some great tickets and helping a worthy cause at the same time, please email Reid  at and he will reserve the tickets for you. First come, first serve, with near simultaneous inquiries going to the high bidder.  Tickets can be mailed to you or a pick-up can be arranged in South Bend.

Go Irish!