If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. -African Proverb
After watching her mother die from AIDS, Gugu and her sister were in need of care. They were placed in foster care where Gugu’s medical needs were ignored. She was ridiculed, verbally abused, and missed large chunks of school because of issues surrounding seriously obstructed bowels. She arrived at Acres of Love extremely ill, and we immediately took her to the hospital. X-rays soon showed that she was in need of an emergency colostomy procedure to save her life. Over the next few years, she required many surgeries to restore her health. Due to the large gaps in schooling, she also needed a specialized educational plan to catch up on the years she had missed. Today she is a healthy teen who is finding success in school.
Lwandile lived with his mother and brother under a water tower, near the local men’s prison. Working as a sex worker, Lwandile’s mother often drank while pregnant, and Lwandile was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Orphaned as a young child, Lwandile came to Acres of Love in need of extra support emotionally as well as in his education. We quickly worked to provide scaffolding for Lwandile with special services in school and focused care at home. We will continue to provide Lwandile with the love of family and strong support system he needs to find success in life.
Born with a congenital heart defect and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Xolo came to Acres at the age of four from a local orphanage unable to care for her involved medical needs. We quickly helped her transition into a life filled with the love and care of family, while assembling an incredible medical team to assess her case. Her heart condition will require medical supervision throughout her life, and we have already begun to develop a success plan with the doctors charged with her care. Due to living most of her life in an institution, she also arrived with severe developmental delays and has benefited from occupational and physical therapy to help her reach developmental milestones.
Sibonelo came to Acres of Love as an infant with bilateral clubfeet. Requiring multiple surgeries over the course of 3 years, Sibonelo was able to transition into mobility as he learned to run, jump, and play with his siblings on his own two feet.
The breadth of issues our children face is wide. Some children arrive at Acres of Love with severe malnutrition and lack of healthy diet. A growing number children come to us with severe developmental delays and/or undisclosed medical needs that require a team to provide in-depth assessments to understand how to best care for their needs. We work with incredible therapists who come alongside our children to meet important physical and developmental milestones.
Some of our children arrive with AIDS or HIV, necessitating individualized ARV (anti-retroviral) treatments to live a healthy life. Many of our children living with HIV also have chronic ear problems requiring Tympanoplasty surgery to reconstruct the eardrum and/or the small bones of the middle ear. For some, these ear problems require Bone Anchored Hearing Aids to allow for auditory success. Another common issue for our children with HIV+ is the need for a colostomy procedure and we have had generous doctors and facilities that have helped us provide this numerous times. Still other medical issues that our children face include visual impairments, Down Syndrome, TB, Hydrocephalus, heart defects or conditions, club feet, Cerebral Palsy, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), paralysis, and cancer.
While the names have been changed, these are all true stories of specific children living in our care. We seek to provide the very best medical care to each child that arrives at Acres of Love. As we care for almost 200 children- each with a story as unique and complex as those above- this is a daunting task to tackle on our own. Fortunately, our team is supported by an amazing group of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and health care providers that truly believe in our work and care for our children. Their dedication, many for many years, has allowed Acres of Love to provide the benchmark in medical care.
Each of our children has an Acres of Love Medical History Record Book. This binder goes with the child and house parent to each medical appointment. Doctors note every visit, medication given, and action plan in the book. From doctor to doctor, our entire medical team can see and understand the continuity and level of care given for each child. These thorough records allow for complex cases to be well documented and understood by all the layers of medical support surrounding each child, allowing for the very best care and outcomes.
We are incredibly grateful for the partners who have come alongside us to meet the unique medical needs of our children. Dentists, doctors, therapists, psychologists, hospital support staff, front office receptionists, clinics, and hospitals have all joined us to care for the unique and complex needs of each child we are privileged to serve. Like the African Proverb, we’re working to care for the long-term needs of our children, and we’re thankful for our generous and talented medical team that makes it possible.