Beautiful little Esther joined our home yesterday! As with most of our kids, she comes with a heartbreaking past, but can now look forward to a bright future!
Esther is two years old, but because of malnutrition and untreated TB and HIV, she’s the size of an 8 or 9 month old baby! She has a beautiful smile, with perfectly straight, surprisingly white teeth. (Many times, kids with malnutrition and/or HIV, don’t have very healthy teeth.) She’s too weak to stand or even crawl. But she can sit up, feed herself, drink from a cup and doesn’t miss a thing going on around her! Even though she’s pretty quiet right now, I can tell that she has tons of personality ready to burst out of her when she gets a bit stronger and more comfortable in her new surroundings!
Esther’s mom died (probably of AIDS) in November of last year. She had been in the hospital for some time, being cared for by her eight year old son, who was also taking care of his baby sister, Esther. (Here, when you’re in the hospital, you also have to have a “caretaker” staying with you. Her dedicated son took on that role! Amazing!) When she died, her young son walked all the way back to their village (about 20 miles), carrying his sister on his back, to tell his grandma that her daughter had died and to start his new life of caring for himself and his sister. What a hero! If it wasn’t for him, Esther never would have survived.
One year later, their condition had become so desperate, that a concerned villager reported their situation to the children’s department. The children’s officer was shocked when he went to the village to investigate. He knew he needed to rescue the children, now aged 9 and 2, immediately! He drove them to Kitale and called us to come pick up Esther. The boy was taken to a rescue center, hopefully temporarily, while the children’s office looks for a home to take him in permanently. We are praying that he gets placed soon, as the rescue center is mostly former street boys (rough and tough), most of them older than this boy. It’s not an environment that would be easy for a little boy from the village to thrive in. We are also praying that he ends up being placed in a home where we can easily arrange for he and Esther to have regular visits and grow up knowing and loving each other!
I know that many of you are thinking that we should just take the boy in also! Don’t think for a minute that that thought hasn’t been spinning around and around in my head since yesterday! But, we just can’t! Our policies of only taking in babies are there for a reason! We can’t risk the masses to save the one…. I know that sounds cold, but unfortunately it is the reality of our world! (If anyone feels they need a more detailed explanation of our policy of only taking in babies, please feel free to inbox me.)
I didn’t set out to write a blog about Esther’s brother…. it just sort of turned out that way. He’s the hero of this whole story! He hasn’t even been to school because first he was taking care of his sick mother, then after she was gone, he took care of Esther! What a special kid!
Esther is a special kid too! She’s a fighter! If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have survived up to now! Today, we took her to AMPATH (HIV AIDS clinic). She will start antiretroviral medications in a few weeks. First, she needs to get her strength up, take some antibiotics, eat a balanced diet, etc. She will also start TB meds, which are hard on the body, but necessary for survival of the disease. She’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’ll be ok!