WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH 2019
I am now halfway through my visit and part of me feels as though I came yesterday although, in many ways, I feel as though I’ve been here for months! I’m not going to mention anything about the temperature today except to say that the shower water is now too hot for comfort! No control tap for adjustments!
Passing through Kumi Town on the way to Kanyum, I took Mary, the tailor, the length of material I had bought in Soroti for her to make up int a summer skirt for me. It will be ready on Friday.
Back to Kanyum with Opio Peter, our mobiliser who we picked up on the way to the homes. He had identified children for us to visit and we started with two, Akol aged 10 and Ojangole aged 15, both cerebral palsy children and from the same family. They had been given wheelchairs from an organisation: “Free wheelchairs mission” or similar which were of a good standard but without solid tyres. Otherwise they suited their purpose admirably. However, this family was very poor and lived in extreme poverty as is so often the case in this rural region of Uganda and Peter was hoping that we would provide them with an income generating project. We gave them money to buy goats, one each to encourage the parents to value these children with disabilities rather than consider them as a burden. Next was Asio, a 15 year old brain damaged girl who was born normal but acquired brain damage following a fever, maybe malaria. The mother had had eight children but four had passed on. Asio could feed herself and she also had a wheelchair. Her parents were a close couple and I noticed they both were wearing wedding rings. I asked about the dowry that the father’s father had had to pay to the bride’s family. Six cows which seemed excessive to me! I asked how they managed to feed the family and the answer was “I beg for food!” which would mean asking others to help, not as I think of begging on the streets. A goat would help them and I gave them a small bonus for some food. Amongin was a 5 year old hydrocephalus girl who could sit well in spite of the enormous size of her head. Peter would return to make parallel bars to enable her to start standing and then, hopefully, to progress to walking. The father, a young lanky man, looked so depressed so we explained that these children can often attend school and do well given encouragement. I hope this news helped cheer him up somewhat. (All the children received goats today.) A brother and sister were next; Akurut aged 3 and Okuti aged 7 were athetoid cerebral palsy children who had no wheelchairs and could only lie on the earth. The family were sitting under the shade of a bougainvillea tree with its pink blossoms forming a frame. They were put on the Wheels for the World list for February 2020 along with so many others. (I can only provide chairs which I buy from Kampala for the children in greatest need otherwise I would need to have a huge bank balance to feed into the project)
Okurut Emmanuel was the 27 year old we met on 11 March and who we had promised a wheelchair, mattress and radio. What joy he demonstrated when he saw everything and what joy we got also at seeing his happiness. He was lifted into the wheelchair which fitted him almost perfectly as it could have been more appropriate if the chair back had supported his head and neck with their wild movements. The mattress would enable him to sleep in comfort instead of on a battered reed mat and, well, the radio! He was ecstatic especially when he found that, despite his wildest movements, he could adjust the dials! His uncle, the Reverend, had had prepared for us hot milk with powdered tea and groundnuts which we had to accept according to their culture. Our hands were washed for us, the food blessed and we could take our fill from the Thermos. Emmanuel stayed out as he had been so used to being inside that he refused to join us! He wanted to play with his radio no doubt!
We had previously encouraged Opio Peter to take his son, although brain damaged, to school and so, on passing the school, we called in to talk with the teacher to see how he was getting on. He won’t ever manage to get far but at least he will be able to socialise with other children.
One more child, Okello Emma, and why is the last visit so often the most complicated? He had severe osteomyelitis of the left femur, had had external fixation two years ago but then suffered a pathological fracture of the bone requiring further surgery. His mother brought him out of the hut to show us his leg with all the metalwork and the pus exuding from the thigh. What next for him? Dr Joseph should be here soon so I shall ask him for his advice and then we shall consider the options. We could do no more. The mother was quite abrupt in her expectations which did not put her in a good frame of light for me but we need to think more about the fate of the boy.
We were passing Kamacha Primary School where two great friends, Tom and Stella, had been moved to from Adesso P/S. I shall visit them next week when we shall distribute Afripads to the newly formed (and second group for me) Girl Guide group.
Time for home apart from collecting the box of Afripads from the YY coach office in Kumi Town. I was once again so dusty and dirty and in need of serious showering but we were reasonably early and I had time to sort out my papers and the next day’s requirements. Little Daniella now knows where I keep my crayons and books so she settled herself on the floor to do some colouring followed by pages of homework! Then supper and bed and I hoped that I would sleep the sleep of the innocent.