*children's names are changed and their photographs obscured for reasons of protection
Gentle is an eight year old Ugandan girl.
She lives with her aunt in a single brick room in a very poor area of Soroti, because her birth-mother died when she was a baby.
She has experienced a lonely childhood because she was rejected from her home village by her father’s other wives, her father has since died, her aunt has few friends, and she cannot play with the local children. All because she is disabled.
What are the risks facing Gentle?
Poor living conditions and her aunt’s meagre income mean Gentle is under-nourished and suffers from various illnesses, which often go untreated.
Gentle’s suspected cerebral palsy prevents her from taking care of herself, so she is very reliant on others. Sadly her aunt has little support from her neighbours and few friends since she cares for a disabled child.
The stigma surrounding disability in Uganda means that many accepted rights are effectively forfeit if Gentle returns to her home village, so she lacks security and will never inherit land to support her later in life.
Children with disabilities in Uganda tend to be rejected from schools due to lack of facilities and support staff, and extra expenses and complications that educating a child with disabilities would bring.
How do we respond to Gentle’s situation?
Gentle has been enrolled into The Ark, a day care centre for children with disabilities five days a week.
Her self-esteem is growing, she is enjoying learning to write and make friends and is receiving physiotherapy, which is enhancing her ability to move around and do things for herself.
Gentle’s aunt now has the freedom during the day to work at a local market while her niece is cared for.
We are looking into the best options for Gentle to be able to enjoy the education once denied her because of her disability, but through the provision of funds through sponsorship and the hard work of the centre staff, Gentle is already learning and developing daily.