“Based on our assessment during her stay at the hospital, the main reason for the pain in her stomach is because she has been hungry for too long.” These words uttered by *Esti’s Immunologist was a shocking revelation for all of us.
Esti is a sweet eleven-year-old, recently referred to Rachel House, with malnutrition and frequent episodes of shooting pain in the stomach that wakes her up at night.
Esti's mother died when she was only three, and she now lives alone with her father who lost his left leg and left arm in a train accident.
Esti's father's disability makes it difficult for him to find work and a stable income. He works as a parking attendant, but only manages to be given work every alternate week. His meagre daily earning is barely sufficient to pay for their monthly rental.
In the beginning when Rachel House nurses visited, Esti had complained of not being able to eat more than a few morsels of food before pain in the stomach kicks in. After a few days of close observations, and with increasing frequency of severe bouts of pain, the nurses decided to request for hospital admission for Esti. Within a few days at the hospital, with regular care and scheduled nutrition, the pain in the stomach magically disappeared.
What can be done for a child like Esti?
Esti’s father goes to work from dawn to late afternoon. She has grown accustomed to sleeping through these hours when her father is away, cuddling a bolster on her stomach.
Is it to stem hunger? Or perhaps to avoid loneliness? Either way, this means Esti goes without food for about 20 hours each day. It is no wonder that when she finally eats, the acid that has built up in the stomach cause sharp pain.
Her father sits by her side and places his warm hand on her stomach. Wishing the pain away. Her scream and cry of pain is now a nightly occurrence. His heart hurts. But what can he do?
The excruciating pain comes whenever she eats in the evening. This makes Esti reluctant to eat. This vicious cycle causes her health to go spiraling down further. At 11, she weighs barely 14 kilograms. She is weak and too embarrassed to go out of the house.
It takes a village to care for a child like Esti
First, we found a neighbour who is willing to bring cooked meals every day to Esti. Supported by the generosity of our donors, we began the daily supply of cooked food and other high-nutrition food items for Esti.
Next, our nurses and community health workers made certain that daily calls were made to ensure Esti wakes up to take her meals, and her father organized her medication regimen before he leaves at the crack of dawn for his work.
Rachel House's team delivered some cooking utensils to allow Esti’s father to boil water to make warm drinks for them both. A new mattress and clean sheets were delivered to ensure Esti can be free from infections while her body battles on.
Children living with immunity-compromised illness like Esti need adequate nutrition, love and care. Bereft of these essential nourishments, these children could perish.
Rachel House is here for children like Esti, to ensure they are given all they need to live with the joy and quality of life that every child deserve.
We are grateful to all our wonderful donors and supporters for standing by us to help make this possible. For it takes an entire community to care for a child living with serious illnesses.
*Name changed for privacy