Many of us take the most basic things in our lives like walking, speaking, and interacting with others for granted; but for some, every day is a struggle. Seven-year-old Christine Paska has been struggling since she was born. She has severe spina bifida and lives in the Masindi district of Uganda. Her parents abandoned her at a very young age because her health was deteriorating rapidly. But love and family was still out there for Christine, and her grandmother Elizabeth took her in. At the age of five years old, Christine still could not speak or walk properly. She had deep cuts from moving herself around on the ground and was in pain all the time. Thankfully for Christine, Guiding Light Orphans (GLO) saw Christine’s horrific condition and stepped in. Christine needed proper healthcare resources, and this required strong external financial support. Merely going to the hospital proved to be a struggle; it was located six hours away from her home, and a driver had to be hired to take Christine and her grandmother there and back. Christine needed intensive rehabilitation therapy to be able to perform certain basic activities. The first phase of therapy lasted four months, and after that the doctors needed to see Christine every few months to follow up on her progress and reevaluate her condition. Through rehab, she has learned to speak sign language and has a wheelchair in order to get around. She has transformed from a sad, hopeless child born into an environment with limited resources for children like her, to being a vibrant, shining star of her village due to her courage and inspirational story.
Now, due to generous donations from GLO's supporters, her tuition for the first quarter of the school year has been covered. She has been in school for three weeks and is enjoying it immensely. GLO connected with the Katalemwa Cheshire Home for Rehabilitation Services, which is a registered NGO in Kampala, Uganda that specializes in comprehensive rehabilitation for children with disabilities and their families and caretakers. The organization provides assistive devices, engages in advocacy and lobbying, and performs community outreach in the form of clinics in rural areas. It also provides economic empowerment via vocational and entrepreneurship training, development of basic life skills, education, and teaching of income generating activities. In addition, Katalemwa communicates with the child’s families and/or caretakers in order to ensure proper home-based care and psychosocial support for the child when away from the school. By attending this school, Christine is no longer isolated from other children and is able to socialize, learn, and develop life skills just like any child.
This is just one of the many success stories that Guiding Light Orphans has to share. But, the need is still great. The community needs to be empowered even further to become self-sustaining and meet the everyday needs of their citizens. Children like Christine suffer in areas like rural Uganda because they are neglected when their health needs are great; there are extremely limited financial or health resources to support a child, let alone a child with disabilities. Christine needs funding to be able to continue her education and rehabilitation at Katalemwa next quarter. Nonprofit organizations such as GLO bring hope and support to communities and their children, and attempt to educate citizens about their basic human rights to life, clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, and economic empowerment.