Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meagan's Update From Zambia

(This was in my mailbox this morning from Meagan!)
We continue to get more and more babies. We’ve had 3 more in the last 2 weeks, and 2 of the three were HIV positive. The third one is Josephine; she is a year old and she weighs 12 pounds. It is amazing how malnourished you can be and still be alive. Amazingly she is so happy with the sweetest dimples in both cheeks. The true miracle is that she is HIV negative despite being born of an HIV mother and breast feeding from her for 11 months. Praise God she is healthy in that way, at least. The rest are all hanging in there. We’ve had a rough week with sickness, and I wouldn’t say we’re free of it yet. Here is a picture of 5 of our littlest girls, all HIV positive, all between 1-4 months old, all weighing under 7 pounds.
In case you missed it, look closely at the name of the baby on the far right. That’s right! We have a new baby Mary Elizabeth! She is precious, but very, very sick. In fact, in this row of 5 babies, three of them almost died this week. Two would definitely have been on oxygen had the power not been out, and they all were having tons of diarrhea and vomiting so were on IVs. Let me take this opportunity to tell you about the room set up. Above their bed they each have a box. Start by looking at Debbie’s box on the far right. In the back of the box is where we keep all of their medical records and family history. It’s like their chart that they would have at a doctor’s office at home. In front Debbie has two bottles. One is ORS, Oral Rehydration Solution, because she is having so much diarrhea. The other is her formula. The other thing is the dropper we have to feed her with because she is too weak to suck right now. She weighs a little under 5 pounds. Under that they each have a card hanging. That is their daily weight card. I try to take their weight everyday because it’s a great indicator of sickness in these little ones. Like anything, when you see them every day it is so much harder to notice changes in appearance and weight because you’ve been watching it gradually. For instance, Mary came to us with a birth weight of 3.6 kgs, which is huge for one of our babies (almost 8 pounds). Now she is a month and weighing 2.5 kgs or 5.5 pounds. Next to her is Lisa. Lisa came to us at 1 kg. She is now almost four months and weighing 6 pounds. In her box you see all sorts of medicine, and there is a sign above her bed alerting people that she is on special formula. The two next to Lisa are twins, Dorsi and Kim, and then Mary is on the end. This is the rest of this room. There are 13 babies in this room all together, and 11 of these 13 are testing HIV positive right now (3 of them are cut off on the left!).This is one of our four rooms. There is another room just like this, but pink. It also has thirteen babies:

Then there are two rooms for ones closer to a year, but they are harder to get a good picture of. One of those rooms is for HIV positive babies, and the other one is for negative. Anyway, that is a brief tour of the Haven 1. (I saved this last night and am now coming back to finish typing it tonight. I just left the orphanage where we just got a new six month old baby boy- he came with the name Richard. His mother is a prostitute in Kalomo, our nearest town, and she left him asleep lying on the stoop of a neighbor’s hut and abandoned him. If I had to guess, I would guess being born of a mother who is a prostitute in a town where 1 in 3 NON prostitutes have HIV, his chances aren’t too good for not having the virus. It makes me angry and sick thinking about the future of this baby and his mother.)

The two year olds are up to their same old tricks. They have quite a few more songs under their belts (God Made The Big Round Sun, Blessed Child, Speckled Frog, and a few Tonga ones you probably wouldn’t know!). The boys all went in for haircuts last week, and the girls all got plaited (braided), except for Lola whose head is constantly covered in ring worms and sores. She feels a bit left out, but I’m trying to make her feel special in other ways! I wish I could send you some videos so bad because they are just hilarious. They scream constantly as if they don’t know how to talk in a regular voice. They can sing normal songs in silly voices just to make me laugh. They can climb all the way up the burglar bars and let themselves out the little opening at the top and end up on the other side. If I speak to them in Tonga, they respond in Tonga. If I speak to them in English, they respond in English. It’s fascinating watching them learn language and about life. We’ve been running out of formula lately, so even our one year old babies can drink straight up tea and sugar in their bottles in a pinch. They know how to manipulate anyone who walks through the door! They still think brushing their teeth is the most fun thing in the world. They love each other and look out for each other like brothers and sisters should. They try to trick me by getting into each other’s beds and acting like they are in the right one. They are just perfect.

Well, I hope you all are having a great week. I miss you so, so much. I hate that, being here doing what I love and think I need to be doing takes me away from you all. I think about you often and will be forever unable to adequately express to you how much it means to me that you all support me and these babies. You are the best, and I love and miss you. Please write soon!

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