There are many milestones and achievements at Open Arms. But very rarely there are some stories that do not have happy endings. Here we share Thoko's story as we remember this beautiful little girl.
Thoko was brought to Open Arms as a tiny baby on the day she was born, having experienced a traumatic delivery during which she sadly lost her mother.
The difficulties at birth had resulted in some brain damage, and when she was just a few months old Thoko was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
This didn’t stop her from developing into a beautiful, happy child, always full of smiles for everyone who spent time with her - and both the staff and other children at Mangochi Infant Home soon fell in love with Thoko and her cheerful nature.
She moved to Blantyre and became a well known face at Open Arms due to her incredible smile and determination to keep up with her peers. Many volunteers will have met and spent time with this wonderful little girl.
Thoko finally moved back home with her extended family in Mangochi earlier this year, where she was supported by our community outreach team. Before she moved, the Open Arms team carried out home visits to prepare her house and her family came to stay with her while staff gave them training in the specialist care she needed. The family were provided with all the necessary equipment and took time to bond with Thoko and get to know her daily routines.
Thoko’s aunt was delighted to welcome her back in the village and Thoko was very happy and settled in her new home. She was keeping in good health, had made friends with other children in the village and enjoyed the regular visits from the Open Arms community outreach team.
Sadly, Thoko recently became unwell and was treated as an outpatient at the nearby health clinic. Although she initially showed signs of improvement, things quickly took a turn for the worse and she tragically passed away a few days later.
The team in Mangochi were able to attend her burial and offer their support to the family, who we will continue to support through this difficult time.
Thanks to your help and the support of her sponsors, Thoko had overcome so much in her short life. She had many challenges, but we were delighted to see her happily settled at home with her family.
We are all devastated at the news and our thoughts are with her family.
We remain ever committed to working hard to give every child the support they need to survive their early years and grow up to thrive at home with the love of their family - and will fondly remember Thoko's famous smiles.