Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso visit TTL!

Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso visited TTL today!  Exciting!

The two princes joined together to create Sentebale, a charity that generously supports TTL and other child focused Lesotho organizations.

Their visit was complete with arrival by helicopter and Prince Harry dancing with our very own Tsepo, who happily took center stage in the safe-home.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Medical Volunteers experience Outreach 1st Hand

Today the three medical students (Theresa, Kelly, and I) spent a day with one of the outreach teams visiting 5 different clients in a village about 30-45 minutes away by car. It was a great opportunity to see how outreach works, and I look forward to more trips with them in the future. 

On this trip, we stopped in different houses to bring food, weigh and measure kids, and count their ARV pills (HIV meds) to see if the children had received the appropriate amount. We saw quite an array of home settings on all of these visits. Everyone lived in the traditional round huts you see in Lesotho, but what we found inside each home was totally different. One house had nothing but a stove on the mud floor, a couple blankets stacked against a wall, and trash outside. This mother had 4 kids with 1 on the way, no husband, no job, and no food. The house and family were tragic to see; we wished there was more we could do for them. Conversely, the nicest house had a double bed, a small wardrobe, a table, an electric stove, pots and pans, and a solar panel hooked up to the house. The children at this house were fully dressed (compared to the previous house where the children had no pants), and the mother was upbeat and active in her children's healthcare.

All but one of these families had multiple children, but we were caring for only one of their kids who was malnourished (usually the youngest). I witnessed first-hand the huge difference that the home environment can make in a child's health outcome. The one mom with 4 kids seemed very depressed, and it was echoed in her kids' demeanors. Another child we met had lived at our safe-home when TTL first found him, and he had a strong relationship with his father, was interactive with all of us, and was back on target for developmental milestones. 

The WHO guidelines on malnourishment point out that malnourished children are developmentally delayed (crawl, walk, talk later than other children their age), and a crucial part of their treatment should be regular stimulation and encouragement of activity and interaction. I think the TTL safe-house is great for that: the kids have a consistent schedule every day with plenty of food, and there are many staff members and volunteers here to play with them all day. In comparison, most of the people living in the villages are farmers, so they are away all day, and kids are left at home if they aren't in school. If children are very young they are slung on their parents back all day, which doesn't encourage meeting physical milestones like sitting, crawling, walking, etc. I think in severe cases of malnourishment that the safe-home is a great place to nurse a young child back to health. I'm excited to be a small part of that process in the month that I'm here! 

****Rachel Hope is a 4th Year Georgetown Medical Student volunteering at TTL during February******* 

Friday, February 8, 2013

There's no stopping her..

This beautiful girl went home to her aunt two weeks ago.

The first time I saw Reitumetse I was sitting in an overcrowded wing of the Mokhotlong Hospital, trying to keep another new safe-home arrival comforted and amused while we endured the endless wait. One of our Outreach workers made her way through the crowd, followed by another women and a small toddler. There was some general shuffling and babies shifted to quickly free up space on one of the prized benches. It was clear to everybody nearby that this mother was too sick and weak to stand while waiting. Unfortunately, she would pass away a few days later.

Reitumetse spent the next four months in the safe-home, putting on some weight, starting ARVs, and regaining her fiery spirit that was hidden during those first days at TTL.

She quickly became the biggest personality in the safe-home. Incredibly bright and fearless of consequences, she was always getting into as much trouble as she could find.

Meal times became a battle. Not because she didn't want to eat - something that many safe-home babies struggle with during their recovery from malnutrition. No, her problem was that she wanted to do it all herself. But she still hadn't quite mastered getting a spoonful of food into her mouth and would quickly become bored with the process, wanting to move on to more exciting things.

And while she endlessly tried the patience of the loving safe-home bo'me, her infectious smile could win them over in a second.

Reitumetse will face many challenges in her life - she already has and she isn't even two. But somehow I am sure her fierce independence and charm will always manage to get her through. 

This little girl is definitely going places and its so exciting to think about what her future will have in store.