BABY P. IN MOSHI, TANZANIA 4-4-2012, Part 2

As I said in part 1 of the entry on Baby P, I would provide a larger view of him in part 2.

Baby P. has an older brother who started life in almost the exact same way. He was older than Baby P. when his mother first became acquainted with the staff at the Building a Caring Community (BCC). She hesitantly enrolled him in hopes that he would learn to walk. He was receiving lots of nourishment and exercise last year at this time. When Rich and I returned to Moshi this past January, we almost did not recognize him because of his significant growth and his ability to run, jump, and climb. However, he had not started to develop speech yet. He attended the day center infrequently January – March even though the staff had encouraged the mother to send him. She said that her husband did not want him attending because he would end up speaking like “those kids there,” meaning the children with greater needs in all areas of functioning. The center staff and Dr. Matweve, working together, managed to persuade the mother to send both children anyway. Her husband was at the center but would neither enter nor take part in the conversation. The staff member provides transportation to and from home every day for the children and she is also making sure that the mother has food to feed them on weekends and holidays.

So what’s going on here?

  1. This is a very poor family living in a very basic shelter.

  2. Medical care and transportation has not been easily accessible or affordable.

  3. The health of both parents is unknown. One or both of them may have malaria.

  4. There is still a significant stigma attached to having a child with special needs, two in this case.

  5. A father especially feels the anger, humiliation, old beliefs of being cursed, and does not want people to know, thus isolating the family. This is magnified if the child is a boy in this culture.

  6. It is not unusual for one or both parents to leave when a child is found to have special needs.

Look at the 2012 statistics for Tanzania on the CIA World Factbook website:

  • Infant mortality rate in TZ is 72.42 males per 1000 live births and 58.87 females per 1000 live births. It is the 22nd highest in the list of over 200 countries.

  • Infant mortality rate in USA is 6.64 males per 1000 live births and 5.3 females per 1000 live births. It is 205th in the list of over 200 countries, with western European countries showing lower infant mortality rates.

I’d like to end this by giving a huge BRAVO to the center employee who is personally going above and beyond to ensure that these two children have a fair chance at having healthy and productive lives. She hopes to engage one, if not both of the parents, with the center in a greater way as time goes on and as more trust builds.

Once again, I cannot say enough positive comments about the impact of the ProMot Healthcare Project on children with disabilities and their families, BCC, and the ultimate ability to impact the entire community. Thank you to everyone who has donated money for ProMot, and to John and Melissa’s Kilimanjaro climb which also raised money for this. It’s not too late to contribute.


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