After almost 4 years of being away from home, Dee is getting a long weekend home visit. Dee came into the safe home almost 4 years ago with malnutrition. Both of her parents passed away and after a few months it became obvious that there was more going on with Dee than malnutrition. Dee quickly was diagnosed with Down syndrome and TTLF got together to find a better way to give her the best care possible. There are not many options for children who are born with any abnormality in Lesotho. However, we contacted a center who houses children with disabilities and helps rehabilitate them. TTL has worked with them in the past and was hoping this would be a temporary solution while Dee learned to walk, feed herself, and learn how to have some communication.
A few months ago we checked on Dee and found that she is flourishing! We decided it would be a good time to talk about doing a few home visits with the family over holidays to start the welcoming home process. This weekend is the first and it was the most beautiful Thursday afternoon ever!
We drive up to her village, which is picture perfect, on top of a mountain. The view from her doorstep is sweeping views of mountain tops with Aloe plants growing in their yard. Ntate K, gets out and asks the family a few questions, just to confirm we are at the correct house. Dee has fallen asleep on the drive and it takes her a few minutes to wake up. I am ready with
the camera and start snapping pictures. The Ntate of the house sees her and started to cry with joy, bringing tears to my eyes. I stay focused as I don’t want to miss a second of this. It took Dee a few minutes but she warmed right up to them and smiles fill her face. Both Grandmothers come running out singing with joy and I look around and the entire village has come out to welcome Dee home. Her brother, who is now the Ntate of the house turns to me and says “She is my daughter and I am her father!” It was so beautiful to see how proud he was and how happy the entire family was to have her home, even for a few days. The village children all greeted Dee with open arms and were excited to play.
We left all with huge smiles on our face. Usually, children who have special needs are not seen, kept in their homes or sent away never to be seen again. It was the most heart-warming experience to witness cultural norms being shattered, along with gender norms, all in one hour! We will pick up Dee on Monday and see how it went. We have no doubt that this will be a great week for this family!
Nastassia is a current Peace Corps Volunteer with TTL. She has experience working in various aspects of International Public Health with a strong focus on Maternal and Children’s health. She works mostly with the various TTL outreach programs and just loves spending afternoons in the safe home with the best babies in the world.