Category Archives: Uganda
As the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday this weekend, 15th March, we’d like to tell you about one very special mother. Roy is 26 years old and has four children. She lives with her husband Ronald and four children in a remote village in Uganda, East Africa, about 100km northeast of the capital, Kampala.
Like millions of mothers around the world, Roy works hard to support and care for her children. It’s not easy to bring in enough money for the day-to-day essentials and school fees for her two older children – primary education is not free in Uganda. She and Ronald eke out a living growing sweet potatoes, maize and beans and making bricks.
But what makes Roy particularly amazing is that one of her four children – Denis, aged 8 – is actually her half-brother. He came to live with Roy and Ronald just a year ago. We’ve been sharing Denis’ story recently as thanks to CBM supporters, he is currently being treated for Blount’s Disease, which causes his legs to bend and makes walking slow and painful.
Denis had been abandoned by his biological mother and was living with his father. But he was not treated well.“While all other children at my father’s place were sent to school, Denis was neglected. He didn’t bring the boy to a doctor or send him to school. Instead the father gave him funny and abusive names because of his disability. He has even beaten the boy”, explains Roy.
Sadly, due to the stigma attached to disability and the lack of support and education for parents, this story is all too common. But Roy looked at Denis and saw a boy who needed love and care. She took him in and is now mother to him, along with her three other children.
Without treatment, Roy knows that Denis’ future would probably be bleak. “If he remains with this condition he will face very difficult times in future. He may never be independent. He may need help at all times. He will have a lot of pain and his mobility will always be limited. And he might never find a woman who wants to marry him”.
But the treatment for Blounts’ Disease is far from easy for an 8 year-old to go through. Denis spent a tearful night in hospital before his surgery, a long way from home. Since initial surgery to straighten his leg, he has to wear a metal brace or “fixator” on his leg, with daily physiotherapy exercises that often cause him pain.
It’s hard to imagine how a child could go through treatment like Denis’ without a mother’s love and support. Roy is with him every step of the way. At hospital, hers was the first face he saw when waking up from surgery, encouraging him to drink some tea and then have a rest. Before travelling home with him, she learned about the exercises he must do to ensure that his leg heals strong. Every day, she encourages him to do his exercises, encouraging him to persevere in spite of the pain. She must also work hard to help Denis keep his wound clean to prevent infection – not easy when you live in a dusty environment with no electricity or running water at home.
CBM supporters, outreach workers and doctors are all playing a vital role in helping Denis on his treatment journey, which is vital for him to build a better future. But without Roy by his side, showing him a true mother’s love and care, none of this would be possible.
Tobias Pflanz is CBM’s Field Communication Manager. In January 2014, he met 8 year-old Denis, who suffers from Blounts Disease, which makes walking slow and painful. Thanks to CBM supporters, Denis has started treatment to straighten his legs at CoRSU hospital in Uganda, East Africa. Tobias is following Denis’ progress, meeting him regularly and sharing updates. In this blog, he shares his personal response to Denis’ story.
Denis’ story has moved me deeply right from the start. Despite his disability, the pain in his legs, in spite of so many challenges and sadness in his everyday life – other children laughing at his deformed legs – Denis is still a cheerful boy. He enjoys singing and joking around with his nieces and his little nephew. His joyfulness touched my heart immediately.
And then there is his half-sister Roy who adopted Denis into her young family when their father abandoned the boy. Roy and her husband don’t have much and have to care for their own three children. Nevertheless, Roy did not hesitate to take the boy in and look after him as if he was her own son. That impressed me: having a child with a disability would be a curse in the eyes of many people here. But Roy clearly loves Denis.
Still, she couldn’t afford to pay for any intervention. Denis is another strong example that shows why the work of CBM and our partners – like CoRSU Hospital – is so important. Only through one of CoRSU’s outreach clinics did Roy get the information that help was available – and that there was hope.
I showed pictures of Denis from before intervention to my 6-year-old daughter. She asked me: “Daddy, can CoRSU help Denis?” I said: “It will take some time, but in a few months Denis will have legs almost as straight as yours.” “That’s great”, my daughter exclaimed. “Will you then show me pictures of him again?” I certainly will.