Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two frustrating days at RFM

As stated in my last post, we took the two boys and their gogos from Lomngeletjane to the hospital/clinic in Manzini (RFM).  As predicted, the pediatrician did nothing and was absolutely no help.   I think I knew more than he did.  It was so frustrating.  But, I was trying to keep positive.  The first boy lives with his gogo in Lomngeletjane but his father is alive and lives about 6 or 7 km away.  He seems to have a small welding business.  The boy's mother passed away a few years ago probably from complications of AIDS.  He went to an English medium pre-school and was in grade 2 when he got meningitis.  He survived which is very rare in Swaziland, however, he is now deaf.  It is amazing because even though he seems to not hear anything, his SiSwati and English are very good.  You can tell he is smart and he's very inquisitive.  However, his behavior is totally out of control and no one does anything to try and discipline him.  His behavior reminds me of Helen Keller.  He is now in grade 1 and is totally disruptive it.  He has also started running away to his father's place whenever someone is not with him.

The second boy is a little more complex.  He has a rather mild form of cerebral palsy since birth.  He has some level of mental retardation, but it is really hard to tell how much of it is because of his slight CP and the lack of therapy or individual attention.  I think he might be brighter than he looks and than people think.  The Doctor was even less helpful with this child than he was for the first child.  This boy lives with his mother and gogo.  The father is either deceased or has deserted them.  The mother is "sick" so the gogo really cares for him.  

The Doctor said he wanted to talk to parents of each child.  So, this morning I drove up to Lomngeletjane very early to pick up the children and their parents.  I had to go pick them up because the second boy's gogo said the mother wasn't well enough to walk to the bus stop and take public transport.  She wasn't kidding.  I have no idea what is wrong with the mother.  My guess is she is HIV+ and probably not on medication or has an opportunistic illness.  We got to the RFM about 8:00 this morning.  We were the first two patients slated to see the Doctor.  The Doctor didn't finish with his rounds in the hospital until 11:30.  He took about 5 minutes with each family and basically said the same thing he said yesterday:  "They need to be in a home/school for children with disabilities."

There aren't a lot of options here.  But Thoko and I are going to start investigating to see what is available for each child.  I found out today that the mother of the second child has an appointment at the Catholic school for handicapped children on Dec. 1st.  I also found the phone number for the Swaziland School for the Deaf.  Both of these options will probably involve removing the child from their family.  In addition, I'm guessing there will be room, board and tuition costs that the children's families will not be able to pay.

It has been a very frustrating couple of days.  I woke up this morning with a sore throat and had to sit outside in the cold, damp, drizzly weather for 3 1/2 hours waiting for these kids to see the Doctor which ended up to be a huge waste of time.  He was no help and the options are not good.  I have a real problem taking these kids away from their families; however, these kids have no future if they stay in their families.  (Not that their future will be much better even if they go to the schools for the handicapped.)  I'm holding onto Matthew 6:34: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."
I came home and made a big pot of chicken vegetable soup.  I think I'll have a bowl and then go to bed early to ward off this cold/sore throat.

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