As the days continue passing by, the immensity of need in Mokhotlong continues setting ever deeper into my psyche – throbbing like a headache, assuaged only by the equally-constant rhythm of minor triumphs we experience here.
There is another baby girl in the safe-home. Her name is Nkamoheleng. Like all the babies in our care, she comes with a story – a string of facts that amount to a threatened existence and a desperate need for help.
Nkamoheleng arrived at TTL on Wednesday, just one day old, weighing 2.4 kg, or about 5.3 pounds.
Her 18-year-old mother died while delivering at home, in her rural village. Her grandmother brought her to TTL the next day, seeking our help. Nkamoheleng had consumed nothing but water since the day before.
I can’t help but to picture a dark rondaval, a woman in labor, dust in sharp rays of sunlight, sweat, complications, tension, more dust, blood, hushed commands from the matriarch or neighbor or whoever was brave enough to take the lead, more blood, devastating moans, and then a sudden silence from everyone but the tiny baby, crying for breast milk from a mother who she’ll never know.
I wish that somehow we had known, that we had managed to get the teenaged mother to the hospital, that things had gone differently. But the facts are the facts. The sad first chapter of Nkamoheleng’s story is already set in stone.
Thankfully, Nkamoheleng is eating well now, with no diarrhea or vomiting. She has a cute, round face. Minutes ago, she looked warm and content, wrapped in a blanket and held tight by one of the bo’me.
She doesn’t know the tragedy that swirled around her in her first moments of life, the odds stacked against her. What she does know is that she is warm now, and full, and held.
In so many ways, the immensity of need here in Mokhotlong is wrapped up in Nkamoheleng’s story.
Hopefully, the rhythm of TTL success will soon resound there as well.
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation The Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity TTL.