Looking at 4-year-old Otto now as he jumps eagerly off the school bus excited for what he will be learning at school today, or watching him playing with his friends at Harrogate House, all seems like a far cry from the little boy who came to us in 2014 at just two months old.
Otto was born on the streets of Malawi, however, helped by some kind-hearted people Otto and his Mum were soon escorted to hospital, where both Mother and baby could be cared for properly.
Nurses worried about Otto and his Mum as she had been seen wandering around the central hospital campus. Their concern grew further when newborn Otto and his Mum left the hospital before being officially discharged.
Thankfully, strangers noticed her in the local market. Otto still had his hospital band on his wrist, so they stepped in and helped Otto and his Mum back to the hospital to be looked after and get the right help for them both.
Sadly, it became clear that Otto’s Mum suffered psychiatric problems and she needed help to support herself.
Unfortunately, no family was identified and there was no information on which town she originally came from, so the hospital provided her with a safe place to stay to help her on her own road to recovery.
Otto was referred to Open Arms and spent two years in our Blantyre Infant Home growing and developing with the other babies we care for. He settled into the routine at Open Arms with ease, growing and developing those healthy round cheeks and beautiful quiet smile!
Though slow to talk, once Otto was walking confidently he joined the nursery school at Harrogate House and there was no stopping him!
Insisting on wearing his favourite hat the majority of the time, morning nursery sessions at Harrogate House soon began to expand his experiences and his imagination – which helped to make the move to Harrogate House at the age of two, an easy adjustment.
Last year he was delighted to take the next step in his learning when he started Mini Me Montessori nursery who provide free places for a couple of Open Arms children. He clearly loves this opportunity. Calling himself the `big brother` of Harrogate House, Otto is always excited about going to school and is often found waiting for the driver on a morning!
Of course, we aim to integrate all children back with their families or guardians. However, in situations like Otto’s, this is not always the case, and support and additional help is needed.
Not only do we take it as our responsibility to keep children safe, but we also believe that it is our responsibility to facilitate, guide and reassure for seamless re-integrations at an appropriate age for the children.
Otto is a fantastic little boy who we are all extremely proud of at Open Arms, like we are of all of the children who stay with us.
Fortunately, Otto’s story also doesn’t end here, and we are both proud and delighted to say that Otto will be fostered by a local family he can lovingly call his own.
His family in waiting are excited to welcome Otto into his new home and Open Arms will be on hand to help with the bonding process for all, as well as continuing to carry out home assessments to make sure that we can provide the family and Otto with everything they need as they continue together as a unit.
At Open Arms we want to thank you for your continued support. Your help allows us to provide opportunities to children like Otto, who would otherwise struggle to survive let alone go on to learn, develop, and find a loving family of his own.