The Luke Commission has a crèche on the Miracle Campus?

What is a crèche (pronounced cresh)? It’s not an oft-used word in North America.

Still, considering this term “crèche” is perfect for a 2018 Christmas story. Crèche refers to the Nativity, the manger where Jesus spent his first hours on earth.

Lunchtime for the babies at the crèche…

With Germanic roots, “crèche” is an Old English word for “cribb” and an Old French word for “crib” or “manger” or “stall.”

Accompanying this wonderful word is a second “crèche” definition – a “day nursery.” And that’s what TLC has for the staff’s little children and patients’ little children.

TLC’s crèche is moved from place to place on the Miracle Campus, depending on how many adult patients are on campus at one time, coupled with how many youngsters need care.

“I’m happy today, so happy today…”

Patience Nxumalo, outreach support leader, explained: “The idea for our crèche came out of necessity when we had staff members with sick children. They brought them here to see our medical team, but then had no place for the kids to go after treatment. Also, one of our managers gave birth. She was living on campus, so we did not want her to be separated from her newborn baby.”

Daycare in Eswatini is difficult under the best circumstances, as is daycare for working mothers everywhere in the world.

“My baby for today…”

“Our staff mothers had to worry about whether their children were getting enough food to eat and whether they were safe,” said Patience, a project manager for a pre-school training organization before coming to The Luke Commission.

In addition, what happens to the children of patients?

God’s provision for His Son that He sent to earth as a baby is mirrored in TLC’s care for patients’ children, too.  God provided a manger, shared with harmless animals, to surround and protect the newborn Savior. The manger was not fancy, surely, but it was warm and safe.

“My children for today…”

Similarly, TLC provides care for children of HIV patients, who are often too sick to care for their youngsters, and the children are too young to be left at home alone.

Patients often spend weeks or months at the Miracle Campus, as they are brought back from the edge of death with anti-retroviral treatment (ART) regimens and tender spiritual and medical care. Often, these are mothers with little children. Therefore, the Miracle Campus becomes home for the youngsters, too.

“You have treated my children with love, as you have treated me,” said long-time resident of TLC’s intermediary hospital (TOB). “My daughter is happy to go to the crèche every day. Then I can hold my other baby.”

ABC’s in Siswati and English…

Sometimes, the children themselves have contracted both HIV and TB. One six-year-old boy was “ malnourished, lethargic, and failing on treatment,” said senior nurse Rebekah Sartori. “He needed to be on another ART regimen that was monitored carefully to make sure it was working.”

Weighing only about 30 pounds, the boy was started on a feeding program plus antibiotics. His mother came to the Miracle Campus to be with her son. She was pregnant and had several other children at home.

“We kept the mom and her younger children. We did not want her to be stuck at home without transport when the baby came,” said Rebekah.

Just a few at the door of TLC crèche…

Two months later, the boy was healthy enough to go home with his mother and new baby brother.

“The Luke Commission gave me back my boy,” said the young mother. “I’m happy he is doing so well. You are working together with God.”

While at The Luke Commission, these children were cared for daily at the crèche.

The manger, as it might have been, long ago…

“Our first concern was that we have the right staff member to watch the children,” said Patience. “We saw them playing outside and realized they needed something special to do during the day.” Now two fulltime staff members watch over the “manger.”

As the crèche grows, so does The Luke Commission’s commitment to Every Last One—every last patient, every last child of patients, every last child of staff members. The “crib” may seem to be full, but there is always room for one more.

Yes, the manger reminds us that God so loved every last one that He sent His Son. From our crèche to yours, Merry Christmas.

(Janet Tuinstra for The Luke Commission team)

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