Friday, February 29, 2008

January - PePe and Banele

I know that I haven’t written for quite some time. It isn’t that nothing is happening. It is that so much is happening so fast that I am having trouble keeping up. Let’s start with PePe and Banele. I received a call one Friday that they were both very sick. I had seen PePe the week before and tried treating her with an antibiotic. Banele has had a terrible huge boil on his neck for a very long time, which was now an opened draining wound that would not heal. He was not eating, loosing weight, skinny as a bean pole, huge belly with ascites from malnutrition, and extremely weak. The doctor from Baylor had seen him the week before and sent him to be admitted to the government hospital. When I went to check on him, I found that he had not been admitted. The ladies in the community told me that these kids are left alone at night while the father works, and they hear them crying because they are afraid. Sometimes they take them to sleep with them so they won’t be afraid, but the father does not want them to help. Imagine being a child, alone, sick and afraid at night.

Later,I found out that the father had refused to allow the child to be admitted and he had been sent home on oral TB meds. I think that he was so overwhelmed with the care of these two that he just wanted to be finished with them. He did not want to bother with having one in the hospital and having to stay there with him. In hospitals here, you can’t leave a child without having someone stay with them constantly. There must be someone there to give there meds, feed them, and bathe them. When I went to the home and spoke to the father, he told me that the doctor said he would be fine. I told him that I did not agree and asked him if he would like for us to take them and find a home for them in another community. He said yes that would be fine, that he could no longer take care of them. So I told him to give me a few days to find a place and I would let him know.

So here we are a week later and both of them are sicker than ever. I had still not been able to find a place for them, but I knew I had to do something quick, or they were both going to die. I called the Ntombie at that CarePoint and told her to go and pack their clothes and meds, ask the father if he still wanted us to take them and have them at the CarePoint to be picked up. We took them to the government hospital in Mbabane so they would be close to us and we could take care of them. I called Sandra, one of the 'Cup missionaries who had told me last week that she would take them. I asked her if she was still willing to help until we figured something out. Neither one of us knew what we were getting into, but we felt we were doing the only thing that we could to save these children. God gave us peace that we were doing the right thing, even though we didn’t have a clear plan of what the next step was.

Banele was admitted to the hospital with severe malnutrition, anemia, and TB. PePe was placed on medications, but not admitted. They were both very afraid of being left alone, and did not want me to leave them. PePe did not want to be in the hospital because she remembers when she was in before for so long when she had TB. So, they were both crying, and I had to call for help to the 'Cup office to send reinforcements. We had to hire ladies to stay with Banele day and night in the hospital. I went daily to check on him and bring him food or whatever he needed. The hospital doesn’t provide enough nutritious food for someone this malnourished. He was always hungry and wanting something to eat, which was a very good thing, but it kept me running for food for him. I was just so happy to see him eat!

PePe stayed with Sandra. She was also very sick. She would cough so much and had so much phlegm that she would vomit. Her breathing was very labored. I knew I needed to get her to Baylor clinic on Monday and the only way to do that was to get a transfer letter from the government hospital VCT doctor. So I called him and asked if I could get that from him on Monday morning so that I could get her care transferred to Baylor which is closer to us and where we take the kids that are positive from our care points.

Sandra and I tried everything to get PePe to eat. She would only eat peeled grapes and a few bites of rice. Then she would start coughing and throw up. We were having trouble keeping her ARV’s (meds for HIV) down as well. PePe is very quite, and understood very little English, or so we thought. She started coming out with little phrases in English like. “go to toilet”, “go to office”, and “let’s go”. Sandra and I were tag team mom’s for her. I would watch her so Sandra could work, and Sandra would watch her so I could work. When she was with Sandra, she would cry for me, and when she was with me, she would cry for Sandra. If we wanted to get her to understand something, we would call the 'Cup office and have GuGu. Fikile, or Zinty talk to her. It was quite the emotional roller coaster for all of us.

On Monday we took her to see the doctor at Baylor clinic. They started her on antibiotic injections to treat her pneumonia. We were afraid that she had TB again, but the sputum tests were negative, which means that at least she was not very contagious if she did have TB. She began to improve slowly with the daily antibiotic injections, which were extremely traumatic for her. She finally started to have an appetite again, and she was raiding the refrigerator looking for food, which made us very happy! She liked coming to Auntie Teresa’s to play with Joelle and the Barbie dolls. She was getting attached to all of us and we were getting attached to her. I knew I had to find a home for them, and Sandra and I had to get back to work. We had been praying the whole time for the Lord to give us the right place for them. I had tried to find someone in one of our CarePoints that could take them, but it just wasn’t working.

Finally, I called a friend of mine who has an orphanage on a farm, she couldn’t take them, but gave me the name and number of a place to call that is very near my house. I didn’t even know that this was a home, but she spoke highly of them, so I called. Praise the Lord, they said they could take them, so we went to visit, and were very impressed. I had a peace that this was the place. God is in control, and He doesn’t lead us out on a ledge and leave us! Sandra and I took PePe over on a Monday morning, after explaining to her through interpreters what was going to happen. When she realized that we were leaving, she starting crying. It was extremely difficult for both Sandra and I to walk away and leave her crying, but we knew it was in her best interest to be raised in a Swazi home. I cried most of that day, but I knew that she was in God’s hands. After a couple of days we were able to go visit her and we saw that she is very happy and well cared for.

After two weeks in the hospital, Banele was able to go to the home as well. Every time I pass the home when I leave my house I think of them and pray for them. God is good and He cares for these little ones. Please keep them in your prayers. They are both doing so much better, but not completely well yet. Please pray that the father will let us keep them in this home where they are safe, happy, loved, and well cared for.

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