Swaziland’s only children’s palliative care programme, The Rocking Horse Project, was proud to announce that they helped their 600th child on 23 November 2017 after only being in existence since June 2013.
In a letter sent to supporters of the charity, based in Mbabane, the capital city of the small African mountain kingdom, founding director, Denise Mortlock, writes that since they began they have to date:
- Provided transport assistance for 1,964 visits to doctors and physiotherapists. Our children are dying not from lack of life-saving drugs, but from lack of access to these drugs and therapies.
- Paid for 119 tests to be done at private laboratories when the need was urgent but reagents were out of stock at government facilities.
- Provided 4,589 days of accommodation at Hope House Hospice for children in need of end-of-life, or step-down or respite care. Where a family member has not been available, we have also employed caregivers who live with the children and take care of their needs.
- Facilitated training by the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC) on the Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. Dr Gita Naidu, the head paediatric oncologist at Baragwanath Hospital trained 32 doctors and nurses from all four regions of Swaziland and the national trainers from CHOC trained 169 rural health motivators.
And then there are the countless numbers of children who have benefitted from their time spent with the marvelous play coordinators employed by The Rocking Horse Project who work at the hospitals and clinics. “Many of the children with chronic conditions require multiple admissions and knowing that there is someone who is going to make their stay a lot of fun, makes all the difference,” says Denise.
Denise has shared with ehospice the heartfelt letter written to The Rocking Horse Project by Nothando Khumalo, the mother of their 600th patient. She writes,
With my greatest humility,
May I please say thank you very much for what you have done for me concerning my child. She had thrush in her mouth and couldn’t breastfeed or eat any food. I had been to traditional healers and clinics to no avail and people were starting to say frightening things like how one person told her that their child died after 2 months in hospital and another said the same after they too tried many different things – telling me that I will only return home with the baby’s clothes because they cannot help you and I was getting very confused because I had tried everything as well as the traditional methods.
I had already accepted that my child was going to die and when I got to Mbabane Government Hospital and they spoke to you and in your kindness and gentleness with me you did what they requested and got the medication even though you struggled to get it in Mbabane you didn’t give up but made sure you found it. I used it as soon as it was given to me and just overnight, there was a remarkable difference with the child, like the condition was never there!
My child has been sick for 8 months and I am so grateful to you and also to Phetsile*, who used to encourage me and check on us and give us courage and even when the child was well she continued. You really helped my child even when I had given up.
God be with you and please continue to help others as you have helped me. Thank you.
From Nothando Khumalo, Philiswa Shabalala’s Mom
*Phetsile is The Rocking Horse Project play coordinator employed on the children’s ward.
To learn more or provide support of any kind to this wonderful charity, please visit their website.