Dear Rob,

Thank you and Gift of Life SO very much for everything you have done. We

enter 2017 joyfully with a child who we were certain in 2016 wouldn’t make it

much past this time.

Our NGO was introduced to Alan’s family even before Alan was born.  Alan’s

sister, Jesca, was 4 at the time and was crawling on the ground. She had an enormous wound on her foot.  We took Jesca to get tested for HIV, and she turned out to be positive.  Mother and father were both HIV+, father was working at a tree plantation in a far-off village, and mom, who most likely had fetal alcohol syndrome herself, was caring for their 6 children. The mud and thatch roof house they lived in had collapsed in the rain, and so they moved into another similar style house, which was a one room abode, mud floors, approximately 9feet x 5 feet. There was a log holding up one wall of this house, so it wouldn’t fall down as well. There were no beds, no toilet, no food, no clean water.  It was decided that our NGO would take in her youngest four children- Given, Nusula, Jesca and Johari- to live in our children’s center temporarily, while mom and dad made bricks for a new house. We made a deal with them that if they made bricks and the frames, we would supply the cement for the floor and the windows and doors. We also gave dad and mom a job in our children’s center so that they could see their children every day as well as earn an income to help them with their new home needs.  What a success!  Mom and dad built a beautiful four bedroom home, with beds for all of their children, and an outside toilet in a two-year span. With three meals a day, a trusted guardian, clothes, a safe place to sleep, and all basic needs met, Jesca became healthy again, she started to walk as she was now on ARVs and her wound disappeared, and all of the children started to go to school every day,and drastically improved their performance in class.  The children were ready to go home and live with their parents!  We held a huge party and sent them on their way.

Soon, however, Dad started to become sick and was sent to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam (Muhumbili Hospital), where he was diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma, covering both legs.  He was sent home and passed away soon after.  Mom found out she was pregnant with their last son shortly after the father had passed away.  She was terribly depressed and began drinking alcohol.  The family income soon was gone, the children started missing school again, the mother stopped taking her ARVs, and after a few months gave birth to baby Alan.  Alan was continuously ill himself, Mom didn’t want anyone to help him, and she had begun to lash out at everyone, including the NGO. After a few home visits with our social welfare officer and home-based care members, it was clear that we needed help from the government officials to get these children to a safe place.  Alan was now almost two, was the size of a 6-month-old child and could not hold up his head. There was no food in the house, and mom was very ill herself. Once again, we tried to help the Mother (Susan) with a job, but soon she became so ill she was unable to walk, and in October of 2015, she passed away.

We sought professional advice from everywhere about Alan and his failure to thrive, or under-development, and in April of 2016 we even went to Dar es Salaam and got him two ECGs of his heart showing a 13mm hole that was the root cause of his developmental delays. Alan had been placed into one-on-one care with two guardians named Salome and Neema.  They were tasked to give him his medicines, vitamins, milk, physical therapy, and give up to date information to our health care team of what was going on.  Alan was very ill and was hospitalized quite often in his first few months, but with the care of these two women, he soon began to put on weight, started to hit developmental milestones, such as rolling over and sitting upright.  He was about 2.5yrs old when he started sitting and reaching for toys. Even still, by all accounts without a heart surgery, we were told that we were simply providing a comfortable life for him but that he did not have much longer to live.

We then sent out emails and made phone calls trying to see if anyone knew

of a way to get this surgery accomplished. We had been told it would not be

available in Tanzania. That Alan would have to go to India, or maybe South Africa- and we had worried what kind of strain the travel would be for Alan even if we could manage to find the funds and resources to do that! Then in November we received a reply from Gift of Life! It really seemed nothing short of miraculous! There was a team coming and Alan could very possibly get treatment right in Dar es Salaam! We all got in a van and headed (14+ hours) to Dar es Salaam just a few days after we received the email about this information, and test began almost right away undertaken by the team in Muhumbili

We are SO delighted that Alan now has the opportunity to live a full life! We are excited that post recovery, we can work with him on walking, and eventually to see him run around with his siblings and his friends!!

Thank you all again

From all of us here in Mufindi, THANK YOU!