Lulu’s fighting spirit has a domino effect

Lulu is the apple of her Dadda Rodney Browns eye.

Like any other 2-year old, she cries, she scratches in cupboards and hates brushing her hair. When things don’t exactly go her way, she even becomes irritable but there is something very unique and special about her. She loves dominoes, bananas, ballroom music and eating wet wipes.

Lulu, (Warrior Girl in Xhosa) was born prematurely at 32 weeks in Tygerberg Hospital in 2018. At the time, she was a high-risk infant which meant she was also dependant on the illegal substances that were used by her mom.

This is where she entered the lives of Rodney and Tracey Brown. Tracey is part of the staff at Hannah`s Place of Safety in Westridge – a safe house for abandoned and neglected babies.

Lulu’s condition was extremely bad and she suffered from pyloric stenosis, a fairly rare condition that affects newborns and infants. She needed emergency medical treatment right away to avoid life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Lulu`s health was restored and she became a thriving little baby. After five months in safe care, she was placed in foster care by the Department of Social Development. This was shattering news to the Browns who grew to love her as their own.

Rodney says it was one of the saddest days of his life. “I was devastated. We had hopes of actually fostering Lulu ourselves but the system decided otherwise. We built a beautiful relationship with her like any loving parent would. However, for our own sanity it was also important to build a relationship with her biological family who fostered her. There was no way we were going to lose ties with her.”

In all of this, the two families, in an agreement with Social Development decided on a co-parenting arrangement which sees her being raised by both families.

This prompted Rodney, also a local author, to do something special – put together a book, Lulu, written by them and illustrated by Nebo Pilate. “Our family have an amazing love for kids and because Lulu became part of our household, her life, like any other kid, needed to be celebrated. We have two sons, a 15 year old and a 21 year old who adores her. She turned 2 in July and my wife came up with the storyline that depicts the life of Lulu in her daily exploits and shenanigans at home. It tells the story of what she gets up to from the time she wakes up, until the time she goes to bed at night. In the book there are her usual arguments with grandma, her fights with the family dog, a Jack Rusell named Max and her favourite – playing dominoes at any given hour. It ends off with her favourite prayer which she herself edited to only two lines – ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Look upon this little child. Amen’.”

Tracey says because Lulu is so well-loved by everyone, people urged them to open a Facebook Page. 

“My hubby shared daily random clips of her on his timeline and it became quite prominent. I was reluctant because at first as I didn’t want her to be showcased but then realised that she brightens up people`s day with her antics. She is such an easy child to love and people are drawn to her. She enjoys quite a following. We had her book launch over the weekend and sold out all 200 books. With Covid-19 restrictions we were somewhat limited with numbers and basically had four one-hour sessions. I was amazed to see the amount of kids who wanted to know about Lulu and having our little Warrior there was even more special. The book is aimed at children between the ages 2 to 8 years old. It is very easy reading and child-friendly.

During the past five months of lockdown many families had their resilience tested. We have no idea what the future holds but for now, the gift of reading to a child and inspiring someone else to achieve excellence, matters most. If a 2-year old can galvanise so many strangers in her short life, the sky is the limit.”

Proceeds of the book will go towards an education trust for Lulu. The book is also available in Kindle form via Amazon. For more details, email Rodney at
rodneybrownbooks@gmail.com or
tshiendapublications@gmail.com