“The stony track was too narrow for a car, we had to walk. Over three days, hot and dusty, we climbed hills, crossed streams on rotting planks, and trekked through ‘bush’. At the end of the hike, we’d find a small traditional mud and wattle house with a grass-thatched roof, home to a family with a child with disabilities. No electricity. No running water. Families struggle to survive in such harsh environments, walking miles for clean water and trying to cultivate land for food. Able-bodied children walk several kilometres to school. Children with disabilities are isolated and confined to home, school is an impossible dream. It rained on day four,and the tracks turned to flooded muddy quagmires.
We were visiting some of the 20 children taking part in the Rukungiri disability pilot project. Each family had a unique story..
*Connor’s global weakness means he must be carried. His mother took him to school on her back until he became too heavy. Now his elderly grandmother cares for him while his mother goes out looking for work
*Ruth has weakness in both legs. She went to school for four days but was sent home because she couldn’t walk or use the toilet and arrived late after spending 30 minutes crawling to school.
*Victoria needed a carer to help her move round the school compound and take her to the toilet. She needs a specialised mobility aid designed and fitted for her unique disability. Mobility aids are too expensive for the families we met.
We visited five schools. Some school buildings were perched on hillsides, had no paths, or had only a few ramshackle toilets. Where we found accessible toilets, ramps were often inaccessible, and it was hard to visualise wheelchair-users negotiating cramped cubicles.
Visiting Uganda this year has been the most exhausting, challenging, encouraging and exciting overseas trip I’ve made with Global Care. Our eighth trip to Uganda, I thought we’d seen the worst living conditions and most desperate situations. I was wrong. The limitations for children with mobility difficulties, and the effect on their families in such rural and remote locations is utterly heart-breaking.
That’s why I jumped up and down for joy when a recent flurry of emails and WhatsApp messages, videos and photos brought incredible news from the team in Rukungiri.
Helmets have been bought and children needing motorbike transport can go to school!
I jumped up and down when I saw pictures of *Connor and *Ruth in wheelchairs and read *Victoria’s physiotherapy report with recommendations and measurements for a walking aid.
Building work has started for new toilet blocks and accessible toilets at two schools.
Just eight weeks ago these situations were so very different.
If you ever wondered about the impact of your Christmas donation, these photographs represent unimaginable positive change for children and their families.