Friday, November 13, 2009
Good news! I am still in Zimbabwe for a few more weeks and we are all very happy. I was given an extension until the end of November, at which time, I will be driving (yes, driving for about 20 hours!) to Tugela Ferry in South Africa. I have a friend who works there and has recommended an orphanage where I will be volunteering until my visa is ready in Zimbabwe.
This past month, we have accepted a few more children into the nutrition program. We currently have 30 babies and children coming each Monday to collect eggs, peanut butter and bananas. Although we have had 9 children pass away who have been apart of the nutrition program, we have also graduated 58 from the program over the last two years because of improved health!
Many of our children remain permanently on the nutrition program because of long-term illnesses. One boy, named Tanaka, has been my good buddy for many years. He has just turned 10. When I arrived back in September, I found him wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled down very low to cover part of his face. When I lifted the hood to greet him, I found that both eyes were nearly sealed shut from infection.
Over the last two months, we have tried several different medicines along with pumping him full of Flintstone vitamins each morning as he stops by to collect his tablets. We also managed to replace the sweatshirt with a bright yellow sunhat so his eyes are still protected from the sun (a very HOT November sun!)
The condition never seemed to improve much until last week when we were able to take him to a special eye clinic in town. The nurse tested his eyesight and I was surprised to realize that he could not see the very top letter on the chart. When the nurse held up three fingers a few feet away and asked him to tell her how many were raised, Tanaka boldly replied, “one!” He was very proud of himself.
The last week has been a regiment of washing the eyes, apply ointments, and vain attempts to put in eye drops while Tanaka tried to escape. By Friday I didn’t see much improvement, but sent the medicine home to his grandmother anyway so she could continue for the weekend.
Monday morning, bright and early, Tanaka came with his sunhat still pulled far down to cover his eyes. When I lifted the hat to inspect the damage, I was amazed to see two eyes wide open and shining brightly back at me!
Tanaka drank his pills, chewed his Flintstone, and happily skipped out my door and down the dust road to school. I have never seen him skip before. It suits him…