Being involved with The Small Things and the children it benefits can be the most wonderful blessing. But what I have come to learn through my involvement with the Nkoaranga Orphanage is that sometimes it can also be quite heartbreaking.
When my husband and I visited last January, much of our attention was focused on baby girl Hope. At that time, she was 6 months old and still very small as she was born prematurely as the last of six siblings. Thankfully, our emergency fund for premature and sick babies, Project Riziki, allowed us to take her back and forth to hospitals in the nearest cities Arusha and Moshi, as well as helped us pay for her to have one-on-one care from a Mama. Even though her health was always fragile, we were able to give her every chance to thrive.
Following our trip, April had brought The Small Things with some devastating news. Hope as well as Lulu, a baby the same age who was seemingly healthy, both suddenly passed away within two days of each other from a rampant lung infection and sepsis that even intravenous antibiotics could not ward off. We had several medical professionals in our Board of Directors’ network comforting our team saying that this type of infection could have been just as lethal had it been in the US. Needless to say, we were all devastated.
Statistically, one in 20 babies will die before their first birthday in Tanzania, but even by these standards, this year has been difficult. At a time like this we remind ourselves that Project Riziki has allowed us to obtain the best medical and comfort care for these children and to offer them the best life we could during their time here on earth.
It’s also important to remember that Project Riziki has most likely saved the lives of several other children who may not have made it through without the extra vigilance and care our funding provided. Baby Peace was tiny, delicate and extremely premature when he was brought to the orphanage, struggling to gain a healthy weight. After we began one-to-one care, he started gaining weight quickly and is now a gorgeous, loquacious three year old boy thriving in pre-school.
|Peace today, happy and healthy!|
Little Ebeni was also premature, and was hospitalized for several extended stays with lung infections as an infant. With the extra resources that external referral hospitals provided, he stabilized and was able to come home where one-to-one care helped him gain strength. He is now walking, talking and beginning o eat on his own.
|Ebeni when he came to the orphanage|
Recently, a sweet new baby, Suleiman, had arrived at the orphanage at only a few weeks old. Our staff on the ground became concerned when they noticed that he had blue lips and subsequently brought him to KCMC in Moshi, the largest medical complex in the area. It turned out that he was born with a serious congenital heart abnormality. Our staff are now exploring the possibilities for this baby, but most likely he would need to be airlifted out of Tanzania for surgery, and even then there’s no guarantee. We steel ourselves again for the reality that we might lose him, while our incredible mamas, staff and volunteers have been caring for him at the TST compound day and night to be sure he is never alone.
|Outreach Intern Amanda providing overnight care for Suleiman|
|Baby Sule’s first day in NK|
To help provide Suleiman with the comprehensive care that he requires, we have decided to partner with Kumbuka Children’s Centre, an organization based in Arusha to help provide Suleiman with temporary 24/7 one-to-one care. Since he will be currently the only baby at their baby home, he won’t face the sniffles and bugs that inevitably get passed around an orphanage, and that his delicate body might not be able to fight off. Bethan Saidy, Kumbuka’s founder, is also a registered nurse from the UK who can help monitor him properly, providing him the critical care that he requires. Together with the Kumbuka Children’s Centre, we hope to be able to bring him to a specialist in Mwanza where he can get a comprehensive evaluation and potentially treatment.
One-to-one care costs about $1,000 per month, and air travel and surgery are all extremely expensive in Tanzania.
As always, we would be grateful for any support our supporters can provide through Project Riziki, which was crucial in helping cover costs with Lulu, Hope, Ebenezer and Peace. With your help, we can give Suleiman the best chance at success and a healthy development.
To contribute to his care, please visit www.crowdrise.com/projectriziki.
To contribute to building an isolation room that will protect sick babies and prevent illnesses from spreading, please visit www.smallthingssummer.causevox.com.
Thank you for caring about our kids!