One of the things I was most excited about when I started my job at Touching Tiny Lives (TTL for short) was to see the Nutri-Plenty meals from LNI arrive at TTL campus. I had seen videos of the big truck pulling up to the gate, TTL staff unloading the meals, literally flinging boxes at one another to finally fill the TTL storeroom from floor to ceiling.
I often got a little emotional thinking about this - I would finally get to see all of the hard work that myself and the rest of the LNI team - hours of planning, packing, loading and unloading the truck - pay off. I followed my email thread almost religiously, checking to see when the meals would arrive and admittedly peeking out of my office window to see if the truck had rolled up to the TTL gate.
But I missed it. I missed the truck. All of the showmanship of unloading the meals. The assembly line getting the boxes to the storeroom. I missed it.
While I was disappointed, the reason I missed the delivery is that I was out in the community, witnessing how TTL staff put Nutri-Plenty meals into action.
We drove just over two hours to reach a small house on the side of a mountain. We stumbled our way down the steep hill to where five kids were running around laughing and playing. The kids lived with their grandmother and uncle, the few remaining family members they had left.
This isn’t a rarity in Lesotho, in many communities it’s the norm. As a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis, parents often are too ill, or in the worst cases, pass away due to infection. Children are left with the next immediate family member, usually a grandparent.
This nkhono, or grandmother, was extremely hospitable and kind. Her eyes lit up when we brought the Nutri-Plenty and a package of other nutritious foods into her home. She thanked us several times on our way out, waving from her house as we drove away.
When you think about it, it’s a rather little thing. All that LNI and TTL do is ensure children get enough quality food to eat. A box of meals costs $34 but it goes a long way in these households. It provides 216 meals and helps to mitigate the financial burdens of being a single grandparent taking care of multiple children.
TTL serves around 100 children in our safe home and in our outreach program, all of whom benefit from the incredible work LNI does. With the help of LNI, TTL has been able to grow our capacity to reach even the most rural and vulnerable populations.
I kept dreaming about seeing the meals delivered to TTL. But I got to witness something better than seeing our hard work arrive. I got to witness how our work plays out. How that hard work goes into a community. I get to see our hard work at work.
-Annie Fort ‘18