In memory of Lulu and Hope

Top: Lulu, June 2013 – April 2014, bottom: Hope, July 2013 – April 2014

It is hard to know how to begin as I am writing to you all this morning.  We are heartbroken to tell you that baby Lulu passed away in hospital on Wednesday night, and that Hope passed away on Friday night from the same infection.

Lulu had been in and out of hospital over the last few days, but was on antibiotics and smiley and happy on Wednesday with just a low fever.  The Mamas spent all day giving her dehydration salts, but she deteriorated during the day and was re-admitted to Nkoaranga hospital in the evening.  Mama Pendo was with her and had planned to ask us to have her transferred to a bigger hospital in Arusha today, but Lulu passed away around 5am despite the doctor and nurses’ best efforts to save her.  Hope was also suffering from similar symptoms and so was admitted to hospital in Moshi with a high fever.  For a while we held out hope that she might once again pull through; however, she passed away despite the best care available in the region.

The most likely scenario, though we will probably never know for sure, is a virulent bacterial pneumonia, that Lulu caught, and Hope was just that much more susceptible to catching from her than the other children because of her history of recurrent illness and slow weight gain. There is no reason to suspect any reservoir of infection in the orphanage at this time, and this does not have the hallmarks of influenza or other endemic conditions. We will remain vigilant and continue to exercise and encourage good hygiene.

I am sure it will come as a huge shock to you, as it did to all of us on the ground and on the board. To have lost two beautiful, bubbly and happy little girls in the space of two days is almost too much to take in and to bear.  It is hard to understand that the short time in which we were able to share in their laughter, their growing and their learning is over.  Today, our staff and volunteers in Nkoaranga joined the Mamas and the rest of the village in attending a beautiful funeral for Lulu, and tomorrow everyone will once again gather to support each other and remember Hope who is gone but will also be forever in our thoughts.  We plan to host a memorial service later in the week after everyone has had space to pause.

Our thoughts will be with all those whose lives these baby girls have touched, and who are hurting at this moment.  Dorothy shared this poem by Judah ha-Levi with us and I wanted to share it with all of you as well.  I hope it will help you process this sad news.

It is a fearful thing to love
what death can touch.
A fearful thing to love, 
hope, dream: to be–
to be, and oh! To lose,
A thing for fools this, and
a holy thing to love.
a holy thing,
your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your smile was gift to me.
To remember this brings a painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death has touched.
If you would like to make a donation in memory of Lulu and Hope, we ask that you donate through Project Riziki, our fund for hospital fees, and any other support which is needed by sick or vulnerable children in our care.  Thank you so much to those who have already donated and for all the kind messages of support which we have recieved.  They have made a big difference in a very difficult time.  If you have an questions or messages, please email us at
Thank you.