Things have been so busy here that today, when I finally took a moment to do a headcount, and realized we currently have 9 babies in the safe-home, I was a bit surprised. I wondered if I could name them all.
Happily, I could, but it took a few minutes.
Here’s an update:
1. Paballo (Girl – 18 months) — She is adorable and sweet. She is also still a crier, but now it seems I comfort her. The other morning, after she had been crying for quite some time, ‘Me Nthabeleng suddenly showed up in the fellows’ office and handed her over to me. She immediately stopped crying and said, “Ntate,” in her sweet little voice. I smiled and Nthabeleng laughed. Paballo goes home on Friday, where she won’t be as coddled. Hopefully she will adapt quickly.
2. Retsepile (Boy – 20 months) — After yet another sickness that had him losing weight, he finally seems to be back on track. The TB treatment seems to be working. He is finally gaining weight and sitting up, and appears to have a bit more energy. He smiles when I play with him, but he is still unable to move around and I think he gets envious of the other toddlers’ fun. Hopefully he will be able to join them soon enough.
3. Retsepile (Girl – 3 months) — She is still small, but is considerably larger than when she first arrived at TTL in September, shortly after her own birth and her mother’s death. All her life has been at TTL. She’ll likely remain here for a while longer, as she currently has no care-giver to take care of her while her father works. We’re hoping to solve that problem.
4. Tseliso (Boy – 2 months) — He arrived not long ago, too small and frail. He has wide, curious eyes and a shock of dark black hair. He’s feeding well and hopefully will gain strength rapidly.
5. Khutliso (Boy – 16 months) — He arrived last week with his grandmother, malnourished and lethargic. I helped complete the client intake form and then held and tried to comfort him while his grandmother packed her things and left. His eyes were so sad, I had to make a conscious effort to appear happy, hoping it might ease his fear. Now he smiles at me every time I go into the playroom, and I think the first-impression trick may have worked. I think we’ll be good buddies soon, and with the help of plumpy nut, he will hopefully put on weight quickly.
6. Nthabiseng (Girl – 6 months) — She has also been at TTL all her life. Her twin, Pulane, was here as well, but passed away. She’s come so far, from the tiny premature infant she was when she first arrived to the chunky-cheeked baby she is today. She will likely go home next month, and I know the bo’me here, who have raised her, will miss her.
7. Nthabiseng (Girl – 28 months) — She just arrived on Friday, malnourished but smiling. Her bukana tells the story of multiple counseling sessions for drug adherence, and multiple defaults. Taking medicine for HIV unsteadily, and missing doses, is very bad for you, which is worrisome in terms of her overall success on the regimen. Her mother is apparently gone, “disappeared” not long ago, and her father dropped her off in her village in Thaba Tseka before departing for Maseru himself. Hopefully, staying at TTL, Nthabiseng will get to a point where she is healthy and happy, on the right medications, and we can return her to her grandmother in Thaba Tseka. She is a very sweet little girl, and she seems to like me, giggling when I play with her. I acted goofy and made a fool of myself early on in our relationship, which always helps.
8. Kokonyana (Girl – 7 months) — Severely underweight and on plumpy nut, she is a cute little girl who seems uneasy much of the time. I think she is still getting used to being fed. She wails every meal. Hopefully she will learn to like food soon, as she needs as much as she can get.
9. Mpho (Boy – 5 months) — He has been at TTL for quite some time. His mother has been ill since his birth, during which his twin passed away. We are hoping his mother recovers. In the meantime, we have seen some improvement in his chronic skin rash and are hoping it will go away for good soon.
It is quite a sight to see the safe-home in action with so many clients currently residing here. Each of them has such an amazing story of survival. They are all fighters, tough before they should need to be.
It’s also heartwarming to see their progress. Like TTL’s motto says — “One Child at a Time.”
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.