I am three weeks late in writing this tribute to Khotso. I am not one to procrastinate but for many, deeply, painful reasons, I have. I give you my apologies for that. Khotso deserved better. He deserved so much better.
Bracelet of Hope has made a commitment to 39 foster children we support and care for in Lesotho. Despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the people who loved and cared for him, Khotso died on December 19th of injuries he sustained after falling out of a tree the week before.
We loved this little guy. He was also well loved by his siblings, his foster parents, his church community at the Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Butha Buthe, his pastor, James Qhobelo, his social worker Samuel Mpakanyane and Bracelet of Hope's in country director, Andy McDougall, who loved him well.
Andy spent time at Khoto's foster home the week before he fell. In Andy's words, "As always, he just wanted to sit next to me, and check out the hair on my arms. He never said a lot, but always gravitated towards visitors and had a ready smile for everyone. A sweet kid that none of us did, or will ever know well."
Mamokhele is Khotso's 15 year old aunt. She has cared for him since he was an infant. She is devastated. I can't even imagine.
If an obituary could have been written for Khotso, this is what it may have said. These are the words of our beloved Samuel, social worker for all the foster kids:
He was an introvert, he did not talk much. He was very excited to go to school in 2017. The first thing one got from him on arrival at the home was a smile on the face. He enjoyed one’s company a lot. Khotso was a five year old boy who led a normal Basotho child life. He was very fond of prayer and church and these he expressed through requesting prayer sessions and bible studies from his foster parents.
Khotso left behind his younger brother Justice, his aunt Mamokhele and his foster brothers and sisters, Rethabile, Mafusi, Malefetsane and Sello.
Khotso was admitted to the district hospital in Hlotse, Lesotho. He received excellent care there.
The world is not a just place. Most countries in the world do not have a McMaster Children's Hospital or a world renowned facility like Sick Kids in Toronto. Had he fallen out of a tree in Guelph, he would have been transferred from our local hospital to one of the above, and there, his serious injuries would have been treated by pediatric experts who would have saved his life.
But the world is not a just place.
At the hospital in Lesotho, in the days before he died, Khotso still had hope the he was going to walk and see his siblings and make it to church for Christmas day wearing his Christmas clothes.
He will always remain as a gentle, sweet presence in our hearts and for him and all the others, we must never give up. Our voices often seem silenced by all the noise in a loud, confused, and lost world. Our hearts break as we witness one senseless loss of innocent life after another. But we will never give up.
God speed little guy. We'll see you on the other side.
Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik MD CCFP
Founder Bracelet of Hope