We started the day at a rehabilitation facility called Cheshire Homes for children with mental and physical handicaps to teach them how to be as independent as possible. The caretakers/parents struggle finding time to bring the children as they often have other kids at home and are required to miss work. But the facility does amazing things including horse therapy! This is all supported by The Rocking Horse – an incredible organization founded by our friend Denise who is strong, selfless, and thoughtful.
Denise next took us to RFM hospital to the long term care ward. Her effort here is to keep the children educated while they seek care for a (hopefully) curable illnesses. She hires teachers to work with the children so they do not fall behind in school. She also has a play room for the children so they can momentarily forget about their illness. We met a young girl whose house caught on fire in November and she has been there ever since – completely covered in burns from the tip of her head to her navel. She loves Denise’s hired teacher so much, the doctors ask her to calm the girl down when they are painfully changing her dressings.
Just when my heart couldn’t take anymore, Denise asked us to come with her to Hope House – an end of life care facility for children. We met a little girl who was 20 months old with an eye cancer that spread to her brain – they are keeping her comfortable with morphine and waiting for the inevitable. Her mother and her aunt were crying and I had to step outside to not make matters worse. My daughter Tinlie Lihle is 19 months old and I couldn’t help thinking about her in that position – I’m lucky that the tears are uncontrollable now as I am reliving the day rather than in front of the mother who is holding onto all hope that God will perform a miracle to keep her beautiful sweetie alive. We met one of the caretakers at the Hope House whose name was Sylvia – a compassionate hardworking woman. She was from the DRC and the rebels killed everyone in her village, except her – including her husband and 4 children. When she became a refugee in Swaziland she asked for a work position that would enable her to care for children so she could feel like someone somewhere in heaven is caring for hers. Heartbreaking. We then met a 15 year old girl who is mentally challenged with HIV who came to the facility at only 35 pounds. The good news is, she has fully recovered from the malnutrition and is being released. The bad news is, she is constantly abused so they are putting her on contraceptive injections to prevent pregnancy. Its quite common here for the special needs children to be abused as that is what is also happening with a girl we support from Malindza and a school for the handicapped Denise supports. She said the children are abused on their walks home. It was even in the newspaper this weekend that the children seeking treatment in the Mbabane Gov’t Hospital were being sodomized. Hopefully this rape is stopped! We then met a mother who is dying of HIV and opportunistic infections. She gave birth to Wilson 2 months ago and he is just now 5 pounds. He was born severely premature and likely HIV positive. The caretakers are quite sure that both mother and baby will soon die. As we finally came home for the night my heart was about to explode. I was reluctant to even write this blog today as reliving the memories is too much….but these children need our help!
Denise is asking for: anything musical (preferably without batteries – recorders, children xylophones, etc), anything textured like toys or cardboard books with touch and feel¸ bright colorful toys, any rehabilitation toys (think baby toys… shape sorters, wooden puzzles, etc.), rattles or other non-battery noise makers, adult coloring books and colored pencils or crayons, and old laptops with a DVD drive so our immobile hospice kids can watch movies to pass time.These toys will be used to entertain end of life care kids, assess deafness and blindness and provide rehabilitation exercises for those who may be able to return home. We really appreciate anything you can provide and totally welcome anything used… need not be new. Siyabonga (thank you) for helping us help these deserving children.