Family on wheels in Uganda (Sep. 2011)
Our friends put a family on wheels in Uganda.
Fatima, Rahima, and Ibrahim with their wonderful big brother.
On her village health rounds one day in Makondo, Sister Benedicta's heart was moved by the plight of four children living in particularly dire circumstances. Their mother, feeling she could take no more from their abusive father, had run away and left the family. The father did not care for the children and was suspicious of outsiders. The baby, one-year old Rahima, was malnourished. An older girl of four, Fatima, could not walk or stand and did not speak. Six year-old Ibrahim was also malnourished and the oldest, fourteen year-old Yassin, was mentally challenged. None of the children smiled: they had little to smile about.
It was a sensitive situation, but the father agreed that Fatima and Ibrahim could come to St. Kizito's Nursery School each day. Because Fatima could not walk, Yassin would carry her, which meant that the three oldest children would get the food that was distributed at the school.
It's not Formula 1, but Fatima and Rahima think this is a much better way to travel.
Sister Benedicta brought soya, powdered milk, and maize each day for Rahima at home but soon realized that the food was not being given. A kind woman agreed to care for the baby and both of them were able to attend the nutrition unit in Kitovu Hospital 50 km away. Rahima and her carer stayed at Kitovu for two months. Even though the baby improved she was still wary of people. She, too, was allowed to go to the nursery in Makondo because she seemed to be missing her siblings.
Carrying four year-old Fatima was a lot for Yassin, and now there were two children who could not walk needing to attend the nursery. Undaunted and willing to use whatever wheels were available, Yassin resorted to a wheelbarrow to bring his two youngest siblings to the nursery every day.
One Sunday when the MMMs were together for dinner the unusual taxi service was a topic of conversation. Sr. Maura Lynch said that a double buggy had come in a container of hospital equipment donated by friends in Dingle, Co. Kerry when a new hospital was built there.
The buggy has made it much easier for the children to come to the nursery together. Soon Rahima began sitting by herself and taking steps on her own. Fatima is now able to walk a little, sings nursery rhymes, and counts to ten. She takes her teacherâ€™s hands and dances.
Sister Celine has now passed over the nursery school to the care of Sisters Maria Jose and Dumka. Before she left for Ireland she was delighted to have yet another happy story to tell us. Fund-raising for St. Kizito's continues to be important for her.
Sister Celine (left) has now passed over the nursery school to the care of Sisters Maria Jose (right) and Dumka (centre) and their dedicated staff. Before she left for Ireland she was delighted to have yet another happy story to tell us. Fund-raising for St. Kizito's continues to be important for her.