Medius Tibiita is a 48 year old single mother of 3 living in Katale-Seguku, in the Wakiso District of Uganda. Her eldest daughter, Sarah Ninsiima who is 17, suffered from cerebral malaria when she was 6. For the first 6 years of life, Sarah was a happy, healthy girl and met all her developmental milestones. Then, at the age of 6, Sarah suffered a severe bout of malaria. She suffered convulsions, lethargy, jaundice and anemia and was rushed to a nearby clinic where she was admitted and later referred to a hospital in Entebbe where she spent 3 weeks. Sarah then was referred to Mulago National Hospital for further examination and evaluation. While in Mulago Hospital, a physician did a lumbar puncture and due to her paralysis, Sarah was started on treatment. Despite the best care available at the time, Sarah is unable to talk, walk, sit or stand today.
Medius is a loving and caring mother who has always wanted only the best for her children. She is Sarah's caretaker and at the same time needs to be the sole bread winner of the house. Sarah and her two younger siblings depend entirely on their mother.
Before Sarah contracted cerebral malaria, Medius owned and operated a small business selling vegetables, Matooke and other foods. She was able to earn enough to care for her children and meet her household needs. The family lived in a 2-room house and the children were adequately fed. All this is a now just a story from the past. While Medius spent weeks in the hospital caring for Sarah, the business collapsed and their savings were all used up. Today, Medius and her children struggle to meet their growing needs with no reliable income and no prospects for a brighter future.
Medius and her children sleep in a poorly constructed wood plank house with a mud floor, no ventilation, a rusted iron roof that leaks when it rains, and no electricity. During the rainy season, their house is constantly filled with contaminated water which runs down a hill behind their modest home. Medius says, ‘‘My daughter is big now and due to her neurological impairments, she is unable to move around. Whenever we used to go somewhere, I had to carry her until she became too heavy for me to carry. I am happy that I now have a wheelchair to move her around.’’
All children, including Children With Disabilities (CWDS), deserve to be safe and grow up in a supportive environment. Yet in Uganda most CWDS are marginalized, and the majority of their welfare needs are unmet. Their major challenges include a lack of mobility tools, hunger, stigma from community members, lack of a decent shelter, and access to clean and safe light.
“Imaging how stressful it is to be confined in one place without a chance to see what goes on beyond the walls. Sarah must be suffering greatly as she lives all day inside while others are outside enjoying the natural environment to the fullest’’ said George Mike, KACCAD's Solar Outreach Educator.
This needs to change!
Prioritizing the most vulnerable is the primary goal of KACCAD and Let There Be Light International. In all of our data-driven solar programming we target vulnerable off-grid people who are in one or more of our M.O.D.E.S. (Mothers, Orphans, Persons living with a Disabled, Elders and Students) as eligible recipients of solar lights. We recognize the power of a single light to illuminate and improve lives. Families like Sarah's are able to be safer, healthier, and save money on fuel to light their meager homes.
Thanks to Let There Be Light international (LTBLI), Sarah Ninsiima's family received a safe, renewable solar light from LTBLI’s distribution partner Kyosiga Community Christian Association for Development (KACCAD).
www.lettherebelightinternational.org Today, Medius and her 3 children use their solar light every day and are grateful to be a part of Solar Health Uganda's programming. They also give a big thank you to KACCAD’s partner, IHI International, for donating a wheelchair to Sarah Ninsiima to ease her mobility. Together as One!
By Caroline Mwebaza