Imagine being born into severe poverty, the child of an adolescent girl who was herself a victim of war and violence. Add to that the challenges and stigma of living with a major physical disability, and you get some idea of the obstacles faced by these three children of former ChildVoice students that we’d like to tell you about. In all three cases, their type of physical disabilities often are linked to girls having babies too young.
Sadly, the mothers of these children often are viewed as cursed by society and their families, further adding to the mothers’ feelings of rejection. Some mothers will try to get rid of their babies born with disabilities by leaving them in the bush to die of exposure. Other times, families will try and kill the child so they will not be viewed as cursed. If a mom chooses to keep her baby, life is never easy for her or her child.
As we’ve expanded our work to include at-risk girls from South Sudan at Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda, we’ve seen physical issues and stunted growth among the children there. This is no doubt the result of malnutrition, no prenatal care, and child mothers giving birth at much too early an age.
A truly inspirational story is that of Adoch, a very bright 12-year-old girl who came to ChildVoice’s Lukome Center at age four with her mom, Evelyn, as part of Class 3. Adoch has faced seemingly insurmountable odds during her young lifetime. She was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that causes severe contractures of the joints due to the fetus not being able to move in a small girl’s body.
Essentially, Adoch is a quadriplegic; she’s bright and talented, so it’s been very frustrating for her at times to be so severely limited physically. Adoch can move her arms and legs slightly but can’t walk, and she struggled to learn to write.
We were saddened to see how Adoch was isolated when she first arrived at the Lukome Center. Essentially, she was left in a corner of the Early Childhood Development center, where she ate bent over her food. This was not meant to be cruel treatment, it was simply the way she had existed up to that point.
Immediately, ChildVoice got her a wheelchair so she was at eye level with the other children and able to interact with them with a sense of dignity. From then on, she blossomed in her education and socialization skills at the Center.
Thanks in part to the generosity of a group of ChildVoice donors, Adoch has been able to attend a wonderful boarding school for kids with disabilities. St. Jude Children’s Home in nearby Gulu is a medical clinic and school that operates through Primary 8.
Adoch currently is in Primary 4 and has done well at St. Jude. With the help of her teachers, she has developed her own method for writing—which she now does beautifully! This truly is an amazing feat for someone whose arms and hands barely function.
Adoch loves science and wants to be a doctor someday—or maybe an accountant! Adoch’s mother works at Uguvu Dairy in Gulu town, not far from the boarding school, so she visits her daughter often. Because of their time at the Lukome Center and the love, care, and support they received there, both Evelyn and now Adoch have hope for a better and brighter future.
Six-year-old Edmond is a precious little boy who was born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during a long, difficult labor—an issue that occurs all too frequently with young girls in childbirth. He came to us in Class 6 with his mom, Stella, when he was just two.
His physical issues became more apparent and difficult as he got older, and his mother was totally unprepared and unable to care for him after they left the Lukome Center. Edmond’s grandmother tried to step in, but it was too difficult for her. Several years ago, ChildVoice arranged for Edmond to attend St. Jude as well and has been paying his fees.
Edmond is absolutely thriving at St. Jude. When he first arrived, he couldn’t sit up or even hold his head up by himself. Now, with the care and regular physical-therapy sessions he’s receiving, he can move on his own, climb into his bed, feed himself, and do many other things he never could manage before.
Edmond’s smile is infectious and lights up the room. Though he can’t speak, he uses basic sign language to communicate. Edmond still cannot walk, but the staff at St. Jude are very hopeful that one day he will.
Our third child with a disability is two-year-old Samuel. His mom, Beatrice, was in Class 6. Samuel was born after she graduated and has cerebral palsy.
Beatrice is married and both she and her husband work, but it is a real struggle for them to provide for Samuel’s needs. He is not school age yet, but we know he would greatly benefit from basic care and regular therapy sessions at St. Jude.
Samuel could attend the clinic for a month at a time, and his parents would supplement the treatment he gets there with some therapy work at home. Then, once Samuel is old enough, he could board at St. Jude and start his schooling.
Though all three of these children’s mothers have already graduated from the Lukome Center, ChildVoice is committed to maintaining support of their children and helping them remain in school. Adoch’s school fees have already been secured. Our hope is that a few of our dedicated ChildVoice supporters—those with a heart for these children—will help us enable Edmond to continue attending St. Jude and Samuel to begin treatment there.
We feel confident that, with the benefit of special therapy and schooling, both boys will have the chance to live with a quality of life they otherwise would not have. We think Edmond’s beautiful smile attests to that!