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Mlondi lives his dream of seeing a lion in real life

Author: Denise Mortlock, Director of The Rocking Horse Project
12 April 2017

Denise Mortlock, director of The Rocking Horse Project, the only children's palliative care service in Swaziland, describes the wonderful day on which one young boy's dream of seeing a 'real live' lion came true, with the help of many kind and generous people.

What do you do when a child with a life-shortening condition asks you to show him a real lion? You make it happen! You speak to a friend who speaks to another who phones another and before you know it, you are sitting in the office of the Marketing Manager of Big Game Parks and planning how this is going to work. 

The safari started early in the morning with Mlondi and his mother and a hospice nurse, who has given up his day off to come along with the morphine and wheelchair. 

After travelling from the hospice to the camp and seeing giraffe and zebra along the way, time is spent just chilling and watching three rhinoceroses at a water hole.

Then it is time to be transferred to the game viewing vehicle by very kind and patient game rangers who drive slowly over the bumps and stop often to point out the wonders of nature before finding not one or two but six 'real live' lions! 

How do you adequately describe the expression on the face of a very sick child who has never seen a lion in real life before? 

Next come the elephants. Oh the excitement when a young bull becomes too inquisitive and the driver needs to reverse at speed!  

After such a thrilling game drive, it’s time for lunch of an enormous hamburger that can only be nibbled at, but who cares. Mom is close by to help and the nurse is on hand with the morphine.

Then it’s time for the trip back and, after big hugs for the employees of Big Game Parks, sharing stories of the day’s adventures with the staff at the hospice.

Big Game Parks Swaziland, your big hearts and big hospitality made one small child’s dream come true. The smile on his mother’s face as she watched her son enjoying his day out to meet the lions, was priceless.

The Rocking Horse Project is Swaziland's only children's palliative care service. It aims to provide palliative care to improve the quality of life of children with life shortening conditions by offering help for the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses and their families.

This article was originally published on the International Children's edition of ehospice

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