Story from Kampala, Uganda

Story from Kampala, Uganda

By Sr. Goretti Nalumaga, MMM

Margarida (not her real name) is 29 years old, married to ‘Joseph’. Together they have four children, all boys and one adopted girl who is Margarida’s niece. She grew up thinking that Margarida was her real mother. She is, in fact, a daughter of her younger sister who died in childbirth. The girl was told recently that Margarida was her aunt, and she was devastated.

Margarida’s last born has severe cerebral palsy and he depends on her for everything. He gets sick often and is given more attention than the other children. He is accepted by his siblings. Her husband was very supportive regardless of his little income before he left the family.  He was doing casual jobs which could not sustain his family. The small business he had was not promising.  He then decided to go abroad for greener pasture. He was unlucky because while there, he suffered a motor accident, and he sustained a fracture.  His friends who were working with him, agreed to treat, feed, and accommodate him on condition that he would pay them back when he got better.

A boda boda motorbike in Uganda.

He gradually got better after some years. He started riding a “boda boda” motorcycle as before, so as to earn an income, and pay back the debt.  He also tried to support his family back home, but he tried this in vain. He is now jobless and stranded.  When things became worse for the husband and she could not cater for all the five children in the city, she decided to take the three sons to their paternal grandparents who had nothing and the girl to her paternal relatives who also had nothing.  All the children were no longer going to school and feeling unhappy that the mother sent them away from her.  They are still young and could not understand the difficult situation the mother is going through.

To make things worse, the grandparents of the children always depended on their son for nearly everything, but he was no longer supporting them.  Eventually, the mother went to visit the children and the condition did not please her, so she brought all the four children back since they were no longer studying and some were sick.

The sick child had stayed with her mother because no one would accept to stay with him.  When the children came back, she used the money she was saving to take them to a school but could not pay all the school fees for the three terms.  So, they missed half of the second term and only one is in school now as she is struggling with rent and many other domestic needs.  Through advocacy, a Sister spoke to one of our friends who managed to pay school fees for the first born who is very intelligent. He is 10 years old, in primary three and loves school. He keeps on asking the mother why they cannot go back to school while their friends near them go.  When the mother prepares food, the young ones ask for more because they are not satisfied; she gives them her food and she drinks water; she sleeps on an empty stomach.  When she came to visit us first to share her problems, we noticed that she had lost a lot of weight.  We gave her something to eat and to take home.  She looked better when she came back for the second time. The sick boy gets sick often and he has gone to the hospital three times. He has severe cerebral palsy, and no one will stay with him. She was advised by some people to leave the child somewhere or do something but would not follow their evil advice.  She now feels abandoned by the family for not doing what they wanted her to do and some who could afford to support her, refused.   They feel that it was her fault.  When we saw how she was suffering, we decided to enrol her in the programme. Her son must be on daily medication which she cannot afford without support. We have provided nutrition and medical support. Income generating activity was going on as well, but she used some of the profit for domestic needs since the children came back to live with her. Unfortunately, the three children are no longer schooling apart from the one who was supported. The project which was providing medical support finished.
We remain grateful to our donor agencies who help us run the programme. Margarida has benefited from treatment and nutrition supplements for her child. We thank MMM leadership and all our generous friends. We are hopeful that through advocacy, we would get more help so that the remaining three children can go back to school, and the sick child continue to be treated monthly. May God bless and provide for all our needs always.