“They came at the right time to the right place and the right people,” explains Patisile, SOS mother to Mandla and Mbuli. At the Village, Patisile is commonly referred to as Mama Patti.
Two-year-old boys Mandla and Mbuli, and three-year-old girls Nandi and Queenie came to SOS Children’s Village Bulawayo to start a new life.
Bulawayo has the highest unemployment rate in Zimbabwe. More than a quarter of the working population are unable to find employment opportunities. The gender inequality in the city is also alarmingly high. According to the 2012 National Census released in May 2014, the high unemployment rate particularly affects females. The lack of job prospects has a direct impact on household food security and many families are becoming poorer and poorer, leaving them unable to feed their children proper nutritious meals.
Mbuli and Mandla
The two sets of twins have undergone an amazing transformation since coming to the SOS Village. Mbuli and Mandla came from a rural village about 100km outside of Bulawayo. They came to Mama Patti when they were just six weeks old. Their mother died and their elderly grandparents did not have the financial means to provide for the twins’ basic needs.
“They were so tiny when they arrived. They were hungry and thin. I started them on formula and gradually fed them porridge. Thank God they didn’t have kwashiorkor,” Mama Patti says while she watches the twins play.
Kwashiorkor is a severe form of malnutrition where fluid fills in body tissues, causing swelling under the skin. It is most commonly seen in children in developing countries.
Today, Mbuli and Mandla have grown into happy, healthy toddlers. Mama Patti has dressed them in matching white vests and shorts. They squeal with laughter as they play with brightly coloured blocks with their SOS mum.
“I try to play with them as much as is possible so their hand-coordination develops. And, because I love to play with them,” says Mama Patti.
Nandi and Queenie
“I am sorry about their hair,” Joana, SOS mom to Nandi and Queenie, says with a chuckle. “Their sister started braiding their hair this morning but then she went out to play.”
Joana hands the twin girls each a cup, a stick and a bowl of water to play in the garden. Their favourite activity is to “cook” mud pies. The girls were abandoned when they were 15 months old. Today they are three.
“They were both malnourished. They only really slept – they were nonresponsive. Queenie had horrible burns on her head, stomach and arm. She now has large scars, and her internal injuries are still healing,” she say as Queenie adds water to the mud pies.
Joana has been an SOS mother for twenty years but this is her first experience raising twins. “Let me tell you, when they want attention they demand it. I will stop what I am doing and respond to them because I never want them to feel abandoned again,” explains Joana.
Like Patti, Joana says that her experience as an SOS mum has taught her the skills to care for babies with special needs. Mama Patti explains her experience with SOS Children has taught her to provide the twins proper care.
“They came to the right place. At SOS Children’s Villages they are getting the love, care and positive family life that they deserve,” she says.
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