November 2020 report: Latest news on our development plan, and the stories of three children
Reports from Uganda continue to be positive despite all the difficulties we presently face. We have had further support for our Acheru development plan, including help from Women's World Day of Prayer; their endorsement of our work is a big encouragement. The new fence has been constructed, orders placed for solar powered back up lighting systems and audio visual equipment, and additional tools are being purchased for the workshop. Much as we wanted to make these improvements, given the circumstances we hadn't anticipated being able to do it so soon. The Acheru staff were delighted to hear that we are now able to send additional funds for the community work as there are a number of families they particularly want to help. I hope to have more news of this in future updates.
The following are more children's stories which help show the need for the services we provide:
Gift is a 15 year old girl from Kalagi village in Mukono district who presented at Acheru with sickle cell, which had been managed in a different hospital, and severely deformed legs which resulted from multiple fractures when she was younger. There had already been several medical interventions before coming to Acheru.
Gift is the oldest of four children. She has been with her parental grandparents since her parents separated, and the fractures happened about five years ago. Her parent's separation was acrimonious, and Gift's mother was blocked from seeing her.

Her mother says 'It is so sad to see my daughter in such a state with a lot of pain but I will take the blame for not taking Gift and her sister away from their violent father. Our separation was a result of me producing sick children. Gift and her sister were sick all the time, and my husband's character changed when our second child had the same complications as the first born. The whole family turned their backs on me and there were physical and emotional insults. I endured these for some time for the sake of my children, but couldn't take any more and decided to leave. I was stopped from taking the children. I tried everything but failed, the father kept them hidden from me. After three years I settled with another man who understood, and supported me in a fight for the right to see my children. A close family member from the father's side told me how my children were suffering and where they were and I managed to get legal assistance to get them back. Tears rolled from my eyes when I first set eyes on them, I had left Gift walking well with no deformity but now I saw her on crutches with a lot of pain. I am so grateful for the person who notified me about where my children were hidden and the one who told me about Acheru. I do not understand why my children were hidden and made to go through so much pain without medical help'.
Gift writes: 'I fell from the bed when I was at school. I broke my thigh and was sent home after some first aid at school. I was taken to a local traditional bone setter who massaged me and gave me some herbs to take, during that time I was not able to sit because of pain. After five months of pain and being unable to sit or walk my father decided to take me to hospital. I was given crutches and slowly started walking.
It has been so painful. I suffered two problems at once, being sickle cell and having a broken bone. It felt so bad lying down in one place for a long time, I could not do anything by myself. Whenever I thought of stopping going to school I cried, because I thought I would never get better and start school again. The most tormenting thing I will never forget is the pain I went through when I was taken to the bone setter. I used to think about my mother but she was nowhere to be seen because my father stopped us from seeing her.
I thank God that I have never lost all my hope, I used to pray that my mother would come and take care of me and God answered my prayers, my mother did all she could to take my sister and I away from my father. She brought me to Acheru, I am so grateful for the treatment I have received, I can walk on my own and above all I was helped to sit my primary leaving examination through coaching from the teacher at Acheru, and I passed with grades to take me to secondary school after five years of being sick. Now I can walk with no pain.

Diana is 12 years old, from Gulu district in northern Uganda. She was brought to Acheru on 29/10/2019, assessed, examined, and diagnosed with Blount's disease (severe right side and moderate left side). She was admitted to CoRSU on 3/10/2019 and operated on the following day - corrective osteomoty and pinning of bilateral tibia bones - and was discharged back to Acheru two days later.

Diana was reviewed after six weeks by the orthopaedic surgeon, X rays were done, pins and stitches removed and casts applied. She was reviewed again on 15/4 2020, when casts were removed and she started weight bearing on crutches. She was discharged home from Acheru on 23/4/2020 during the Covid 19 lockdown, and her mother was instructed on exercises to be done while at home.
She was again reviewed by the orthopaedic surgeon on 31/7/2020 and discharged from the orthopaedic clinic at Corsu with the deformities corrected.

Melissa was brought to Acheru when she was two weeks old with open lips and palate plus some missing fingers and toes. Her mother was counselled by our social worker and later she was assessed, examined and diagnosed with cleft lip and palate and Streeter's syndrome as well as being underweight.

We referred her to our partner organisation, Noah's Ark, for nutrition support. She was later taken to CoRSU to be examined by the plastic surgeon, given psychosocial support, and continued with nutritional therapy. At six months she weighed 5kg and cleft lip repair was carried out, followed in another five months by palate repair.

Melisa also had eye problems and was referred to eye specialists at Mengo Hospital where she was diagnosed with bacterial conjunctivitis and given medication. She can now feed well, her eyes have started seeing properly, and she has started walking and talking. Her mother is so happy with what Acheru has done for them.

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