Several months ago, when we shared the story of Pritchard and Praymore, I hoped that I’d be able to fill the next update with good news. Alas, I cannot.
As you might recall, by the time we met them, the two brothers had been through a terrible time: Born with HIV, they were taken off their medication when their mother decided to remarry – and hide her and their condition from her new husband. Within months, she was dead, and the boys, although seriously ill, had been taken in by their grandmother in a rural area, who sent them to the fields to herd cattle.
When their grandmother in town finally rescued them, she took them directly to the hospital. But after a month, the hospital kicked them out for non-payment of fees. That’s when Zimkids heard about the boys and took over, taking the boys to their hospital appointments and delivering monthly food baskets to help them gain strength.
Praymore, 11, quickly perked up, but Pritchard, 14, had enormous difficulties keeping down any food. Our volunteer physician treated him with anti-nausea medication and other drugs to increase his appetite. And for a month, he seemed to grow stronger and we began hoping he was out of the woods.
Then his grandmother left for the rural areas, where she traded clothing for food to maintain the other four children and two adults living with her. While she was gone, the adults ate the food Zimkids had provided for the two boys. And by the time she returned, Pritchard was in trouble. She called us immediately and we took him back to the hospital, where he stayed another week.
Some days we thought he was growing stronger; other days we worried that he was simply to weak to thrive. Finally, in early September, his grandmother called to say that he had grown weaker still. We raced him to the hospital, where they refused to admit him unless we paid $20 admission charge. Philip, our program director, had forgotten his wallet and pleaded with the nurses to begin treating Pritchard while he went home to pick up the money. “He could die if you don’t begin helping him,” he begged in the nurse in charge.
“People die here every day,” she responded.
Five days later, Pritchard joined that growing number of Zimbabweans who die from the fatal combination of disease, neglect, malnutrition and indifference.
His death has hit everyone at Zimkids extremely hard. It was the fourth death among our Zimkids in five years. Each time we vow to work harder, to be more cautious. We do so again with the grim knowledge that our efforts will not always be enough.
We also would like to acknowledge the anniversary of our dear friend and benefactor, Adrian Suskin who passed a year ago. He is missed.
Everyone’s spirits have been lifted a bit by our steady progress toward the opening of our licensed preschool, which requires the construction of a new building. In October, our older boys poured the concrete base for the foundation and in early November the foundation bricks were delivered. They’re now laying the bricks, and we expect that construction will be completed by the end of April.
Two steps forward, a kick in the gut, some moments of silence and prayers to regroup before we move forward again, with your love and support. Thank you.
Hand mixed gravel, sand & cement poured for base
Unloading the bricks for foundation