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From Loneliness and Jiggers to Joy

By Jane Afoyocan

Dianah Kobusinge, Community Development Officer (CDO) Buheesi Sub-County – Kabarole District is changing lives of vulnerable children with the minimum fund UNICEF provides the District Probation Office to follow up cases.
 
Veronica Kugonza is an eleven year old disabled girl living with her grandmother, Constancio Kaheeru following the death of her father in Kitengya village, Kiboota Parish, Buheesi sub-county in Kabarole District.  Her mother Kanihira Shakira a peasant farmer had separated with her father and she now lives in her ancestral home in Rwimi Sub-county – Kabarole District. 

During her routine home visit exercise, Dianah – CDO Buheesi Sub-County mapped out Constancio’s home as one of the critically vulnerable household because she is very old in her late 80s yet living with four helpless grandchildren (two boys 15; 13 years old and two girls 11; 13 years old) one of whom is Veronica the 11 year old girl with a disability in both legs and left hand side.  She uses her right hand to move about since she had no wheel chair because her grandmother cannot afford. 

Despite her condition, Veronica is expected to perform the routine house cores like any other girl child in a family.  Veronica was always left alone at home with a three year old sister whom she had to care of while the grandmother went to look for food and other family needs. She cooked for herself and the other members of the family.

Veronica’s greatest challenge was accessing latrine. She had just a T-shirt given to her by a well-wisher. She was always dressed in her t-shirt without a skirt or panty. She washed her T-shirt once a month and also washed for the rest of the family members.  Due to the poor hygiene practice, Veronica was exposed to what the CDO referred to as secondary disability inform of jiggers on her toes and fingers. Dressed in just a T-shirt and yet grown, Veronica was exposed to the risk of abuse. Adolf the older relative used to abuse her that she was dirty and hopeless.

Education: Veronica had never gone to school. The Grand mother said she could not go to school because she had no wheel chair and she could not afford that.

Community Development Officer’s intervention

With the minimum support in form of cash transfer that UNICEF gives to the District to facilitate follow up of cases of Violence Against Children (VAC), Dianah Kobusinge – the CDO Buheesi was able to make a follow up on Veronica and her grandmother to counsel and guide them on proper hygiene and sanitation practices including the dressing needs for Veronica.  

Veronica on the other hand opened up and shared her sentiment with Dianah expressing the loneliness she feels when left alone and her desire for education, prompting the CDO to follow the matter with higher level authorities including leveraging support from other well-wishers.

In December 2014, the CDO linked Veronica to Youth and Women Empowerment (YAWE) project; a Community Based Organization (CBO) based in Fort Portal Municipality. Fortunately for Veronica, YAWE agreed to see her and undertake minor assessment to determine if her condition meets the minimum requirement to qualify her for their support.  An assessment needed to be done at YAWE offices in Municipal municipality exposing them to yet another challenge of securing transport from their home Buheesi to YAWE offices, a cost which veronica and her grandmother could not afford.

Motivated to help in all ways possible; the CDO arranged to transport veronica from their home to YAWE offices and back incurring all expenses involved using her personal money. Fortunately, the assessment result was positive.  Veronica was offered a wheel chair plus an education scholarship through all levels of education, basic needs like food, clothing and shelter; and physical therapy to correct her limps.

Veronica has enrolled at Canon Apollo School for children with Special Needs boarding section. She is very grateful for the love and support she received from the CDO Buheesi and YAWE, the love care and support she is receiving from teachers and pupils of Canon Apollo her new home.  She is full of joy and looks forward to having a brighter and more promising future.

 

 
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