The past few weeks have been busy ones, and but for our Internet connection being out, I would have written sooner.
Much has changed here at the safe-home.
Clever little Boraki has gone home, drastically more healthy than when he first arrived.
The elder Retsepile is now sitting up often and smiling all day long. He smiles wide and waves to me each time I enter the playroom. The TB treatment seems to be working, he is no longer vomiting and has no diarrhea. He is gaining weight finally. Seeing him is amazing. He is such a far cry from the boy whose life the doctor gave up on just a few weeks ago. I am so happy we have finally found the right course of treatment.
Recoveries here at the safe-home seem to work in snowballing fashion, with a slow progression of improvements suddenly gaining momentum until the child is improving by leaps and bounds. I hope Retsepile hits this stride soon.
We have two new clients in the safe-home: Tseliso, a tiny boy who was born at the end of September and whose mother passed away; and Kokonyana, a 7-month-old girl who is lively but underweight.
Kokonyana isn’t scared of anyone, and immediately began playing with me the first time she saw me. She’s got an adorable little face.
Still, chubby-cheeked Paballo remains the sole toddler at TTL who is able to move around the play room on her own, which she does occasionally in a funny sort of all-fours walk.
In past situations like this, with former groups of babies, the toddler in Paballo’s position has become a bit of a playroom diva, confidently wandering around with an air of entitlement to any toy or book she wants. But not so with Paballo.
Her new position seems to have given her a sense of vulnerability rather than power, and the result is that she tries to cling to ‘Me Mamosa, who she adores, all day long.
I have, however, managed to infiltrate this little plot to monopolize all of Mamosa’s time, and have successfully become accepted by Paballo as one more person who she’ll let hold her — usually, and with conditions.
Namely, those conditions are that I carefully orchestrate a string of diversions that will distract Paballo from her otherwise favorite activity of obsessing over where Mamosa is.
I walk her around the office and point at birds and horses out the windows. I lead her around the playroom, pointing at and picking up various stuffed animals, acting as if each one is a newfound treasure. I hold her favorite, noise-making toy in front of us and start pulling its levers with as much enthusiasm as possible.
While it’s working, Paballo is all smiles and giggles.
When it fails, she suddenly starts crying loudly, as if she’s just realized I am an impostor. This most recently occurred during lunch time, when I failed to keep her engaged during the 20 second interval between her lunch and her after-lunch bottle.
Her face goes from a broad smile to a look of victimized accusation — “How did you lure me into this trap?”
I can’t help but laugh. Just as soon as the bottle has once again gotten her attention, she is laughing too.
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.