My cousin Jane is studying at a vocational training school in the neighbourhood. Within her first week of lessons, you needed to hide your lesu, kitenge or any other piece of cloth you had. If she got her hands on it, it would be quickly be transformed into a skirt, dress or purse. I am always amazed at how effortless she makes it all seem.
A couple of days ago, we got to talking about school and she mentioned the chores they have to do. I was particularly disturbed by the tale of Racheal*,her classmate who is living with a disability. She has to use a wheel chair for movement and can’t quite take part in most activities. Despite her obvious difficulties, she had recently been told to get off her wheel chair and mop an entire block as a punishment for being ‘lazy.’ The other students looked on in shock and when they tried to speak,(in her defence) they were given their own punishments. Why does someone who has probably got enough torture from society and inner battles have to deal with bullies in form of administrators in a place where she went to learn?
This is just one story out of many such occurrences countrywide.
Jane was still on my mind when I received communication from Joyce, the Director at Happy Times, Luweero. It started well. They got a new entrant to the school, an 8 year old girl.
I was in for a shock when I read the rest of the message.
Mutesi lived in a small village called Kamira with her mother and step father. On one fateful day, she returned from school very hungry.(many schools do not offer lunch which is an extra cost to the parents)
She tried to roast some maize but ended up fainting and falling right into the fire. When the parents got a whiff of the smoke from the kitchen, they got in to find their daughter unconscious. She was rushed to a health centre and later referred to Mulago. She lost both arms. The scars on her face are healing though the one on her chest still developed wounds. The poor girl became distressed and it didn’t help that her parents became negligent. Last Wednesday her mother committed suicide and left her with a step father who is already known for domestic violence.
It is for this reason that a volunteer rescued her and took her to Joyce.
If having to type this tale is this painful, I can’t imagine what little Mutesi has to deal with in her heart and mind at such a tender age! Life has dealt her blows that no one, let alone a child should endure.
She requires corrective surgery. The team has since followed up the case to ensure that she gets the attention she requires and deserves. Thank God for Joyce who has now taken her in!
Almost every day you read or hear about a story of someone who is dealing with pain that is bordering on surreal. Sometimes you can do something, other times it seems like a hopeless situation.
My take is simple. Try.
We are all fighting a battle whether it is evident or hidden for one reason or another. All we need is at least one person willing to say “take my hand.”
It is a difficult place to be, you know, wishing you could do everything for everyone who needs help. What is not as difficult is doing something no matter how small.
If what you do is simply a drop in the ocean, great! That was a drop that would not have been there without you.