Allen Namuyaba was 17 years of age when she gave birth to her first born in 2016 at Kikandwa HCIII, Mubende District. It was all joy and jubilations for the first 24 hours, and then something which left the baby disabled happened.
“I gave birth to Lucy at 10:00am and all was well. However, 12 hours later, a mysterious illness set in and she stopped breast feeding for two days, her body deteriorating in the process,” Allen says. “After two days, the baby resumed breast feeding but damage had been done to her body. At three months, the baby couldn’t sit and as months passed by, she could not even crawl. She made one year however there was no celebration, our child could not sit or crawl the only option was to lay her down or alternate sleeping with carrying her on my back.”
For the love to see her daughter get better, Allen moved hospital to hospital, seeking all manner of help. All this was in vain. At her home area, her daughter suffered all forms of discrimination - saliva kept dripping from her mouth and even when drinking anything most of it would spill. The family went through depression asking God why it was their Lucy that had to go through this.
Two and half years on, Lucy would sleep in one position, could not speak, sit, stand or walk and could only feed on liquids. With a network of Village Heath Teams (VHTs) from Kiganda HC III identified and working with the child disability component under the Safe Motherhood Project by Mildmay Uganda in partnership with Porticus, Lucy was identified as one of the children who needed support to better her situation. The Nursing Officer at the hospital had been trained by the program staff in identification and management of child defects.
“We were referred to CORSU hospital however the person we met there told us that the child was well, and we should return home,” Allen says. Unsatisfied with the response, Allen returned to Kiganda HCIII and approached one of the VHT members at the maternity wing expressing her dissatisfaction. Here, she was referred to another nurse who on making a few calls, was referred to Katalemwa Rehabilitation Center in Kampala – a place she credits Lucy’s progress from.
“On arrival the doctor checked my daughter and said she would be fine, however advised she needed exercises and that I would start feeding her with real food instead of fluids only as had been the case for the past two years and nine months, Allen narrates. “Here, I was given a standing frame where she was supposed to stand in three times a day for 15 minutes to enable her stretch her muscles.”
It has been two years later since then, and indeed there has been tremendous improvement in the life of Lucy who is 05 years of age. Lucy, like her peers, can sit, stand, run and play. The dripping saliva has reduced and she can now swallow anything given to eat, and eats absent difficulty.
“We are forever grateful to PORTICUS for the support in identifying our child and offering support,” Lucy’s father says. “We had lost hope, we were the talk of our village, but right now, our girl is getting better and better and we are certain she will enroll for school very soon.”
Naiga Specioza, the Village Health Team member attached to Kiganda HCIII (first person Allen met) is in awe on the tremendous improvement that has happened in Lucy’s life.
“I saw that child when the mother brought her and if you weren’t a mother, you wouldn’t come near them,” Specioza says. “Saliva was dripping, the tongue seemed to be moving from one end of the mouth to another. It’s unbelievable the transformation in her life in the space of 05 years. The Safe Motherhood project has generally given hope to mothers with disabled children”.
Allen and her husband, continue to tell the story of Lucy, urging parents with children suffering from not to lose faith, but seek assistance from professional health workers to better the lives of their children.