The news we were dreading
On Thursday August 3rd, two young boys – Samuel and Laurence – began to feel unwell and to show symptoms consistent with cholera. As the outbreak in the area had already claimed the lives of several people living close to the centre it was vital that the boys received medical care as a matter of urgency. You can read more about cholera and this outbreak here.
Chaffinch reacted immediately and provided the necessary funds for staff to take Samuel and Laurence to the hospital. There, they were tested for cholera although it was uncertain if this would be the final diagnosis.
Is it cholera?
The test for cholera returns a result in a matter of minutes. Everyone waited anxiously for the verdict.
Both boys tested positive for cholera.
Treatment is both basic and lifesaving. Due to the vast amount of fluid lost through vomiting and extreme diarrhoea, the immediate danger is dehydration. The boys were both given large volumes of fluids along with antibiotics to destroy the cholera bacteria. They then returned to Future Stars with instructions to get plenty of rest, to drink as much as possible, and to continue using rehydration salts to replace the vital electrolytes they were losing. Beyond these, very simple, instructions, there was little to do but watch and wait and hope that the boys were strong enough to fight both the infection and its effects.
Three days later…
Samuel and Laurence had a rough few days convincing their immune systems to keep fighting.
However, three days after the diagnosis was confirmed, both boys were feeling well enough to join their friends outside.
The steps where they are sitting in the photograph are just outside the boys’ bedroom, in the new part of Future Stars. They were joined by Kevin, Geoffrey, and Tashley – three of the other resident children at the centre.
It was wonderful to see the boys up and about and clearly feeling a lot better. However, it was still early days with no guarantee that the disease was defeated. In addition, both children were weak from days of extreme diarrhoea and having eaten very little. It was important that they continue to drink plenty, to use the rehydration salts, to eat nutritious food, and to rest.
Seeing the beginnings of a smile on Samuel’s face was encouraging – he is known for his cheeky smile and it was heartbreaking to see no sign of it over the past few days.
Another five days later…
Eight days since Samuel and Laurence were diagnosed with cholera and the news is excellent.
The boys are now almost fully recovered and enjoyed playing together outside Future Stars. Whilst it will take a little more time to get them back on top form, the danger has now well and truly passed. It is fantastic to see these children having fun together and it is great to be able to breathe again. Many people had begun to turn blue!
Samuel and Laurence were always the most likely to fall victim to cholera due to their lowered immunity. Their immune systems have been weakened by their early life experiences. Inadequate nutrition during vital years of development have left them vulnerable. However good their diet now, and however much love they receive, their health has been forever damaged.
The difference Child Sponsorship makes
Samuel has had a Chaffinch Child Sponsor since the early days of our sponsorship programme. This has ensured that Samuel has everything he needs to grow up healthy, happy, and with a real hope of a positive and productive future. His brush with cholera is no exception as sponsorship meant we were able to act with the speed necessary to give him the best chance of beating the infection.
Thankfully, our reserves were sufficient to ensure that Laurence could also access speedy healthcare and the outcome could be as good as it has been. Still it remains that Laurence does not have a sponsor. He joined the centre in December 2016 with a heartbreaking story (as so many of the children do). We have been hoping for a special person to become his sponsor but, so far, nobody has come forward. This battle with cholera has shown how much fight remains in him despite the horrors of his past. At 8-years-old, he has a real chance to move forward and leave the negative experiences behind him. Maybe you could be the person to walk alongside him as he does just that?
And there’s that smile!