It Takes More Than A Village
By FAME Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Kathrine Kuhlmann
There we were, with a sweet baby boy, who was barely a day old and suddenly an orphan. His Maasai mother had succumbed to eclampsia shortly following his birth. He was a small newborn and was placed into one of our incubators upon arrival, but he was strong.
One of FAME’s social workers, Kitashu, sprang into action as soon as he heard of the child’s current circumstances. He immediately contacted the family that was far from FAME in a very remote village in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. He knew he would need to involve the family to find someone to breastfeed and help care for this charming baby boy. At FAME, and throughout Tanzania, the nurses know formula feeding is not a sustainable solution due to limited resources. In most cases in which a mother does not survive pregnancy, nurses and social workers look for a relative or neighbor with young children who can breastfeed an additional child. For this baby, it was a challenge for Kitashu to find someone. After communicating back and forth with the child’s village and relatives, he finally found a young Maasai woman a few villages over with a small infant who would be a great match for our new little one. She agreed to come to FAME for three weeks for our team to observe feeding and ensure this baby boy would continue to grow and remain strong.
During their stay at FAME, Kitashu worked with the young mother to ensure she, her young child, and our little one received the attention they needed. He brought them baby clothes, soap, and “kanga” – a common type of Tanzanian fabric many new mothers use. As the social worker on this case, he was able to develop a relationship with this newly formed family. And on discharge day, he disclosed with much joy that the family chose to name this new baby boy Kitashu because of all the support they had received.
Social worker Kitashu and his namesake still get to see one another for checkups during Well Baby Day in the Reproductive and Child Health Center at FAME. At three months old, he’s still doing well and growing stronger with each visit. As an observer, seeing Kitashu work alongside this family, ensuring the safety and stability of life for this new baby boy, was incredible. The family clearly has a lot of respect and love for Kitashu after the support he’d provided. Additionally, we were all in awe of this new young mother who was willing to travel to FAME for nearly a month to support baby Kitashu without having ever met his family and with a young child of her own in tow. They say it takes a village, but in this case, it took extraordinary kindness and unconditional compassion that transcends village boundaries.