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Late Saturday evening, January 5, is when I first heard about Derrick. A sponsor from Canada, Brad and his family had come to Kibaale to visit with the students who they are sponsoring. It was on one of those home visits that they were introduced to Derrick. He looked sick, had a swollen left leg and was using very old homemade wooden crutches to walk with. Brad told Derrick’s family to bring him to the clinic on Monday and he would pay for his care.

So, on Monday I meet Derrick for the first time. He looked like he was maybe 6 years old and no taller than 3 feet. It was difficult to see his face since he looked down… but what I saw was great sadness and pain. There were no smiles, no greetings, no voice…. just complete silence.

The Clinic Officer saw Derrick immediately and requested that he be sent out for an X-ray. The clinic would pay for transportation to Kyotera and for the X-ray but the problem was no family member was willing to take him. Late, Monday afternoon an aunt offered to go with him. They arrived back just about dark and presented me with the X-ray films. Anyone looking at the films would see that he had a broken leg… his left femur was broken in at least two places.

That evening, I contact Brad and explained the situation. He was willing to pay all costs including transportation to anyplace in the world for good care. Unfortunately, the next morning, when the family gathered including two aunts and a grandmother to hear about his condition, no one was willing to take him anywhere.

In Ugandan culture, a patient who is in a clinic or in a hospital needs someone, a family member to take care of him or her… to cook their food, bathe him or her and clean up any messes.

After a day of discussions, one aunt was willing to go with him as far as Masaka. The Clinic Officer and comprehensive nurse knew about an excellent bone specialist at Masaka Regional Hospital called Dr. Masitwa.

A call was made to this well known specialist and he strongly suggested that the boy be admitted to his private clinic. At his private clinic Dr. Masitwa would be able to care for him daily; whereas, in Masaka Regional Hospital he is only allowed be on service, come and see his patients two times per week.

The family transported Derrick to Dr. Musitwa’s clinic. The next day I arrived at the clinic to provided the finances for his stay and to speak with the doctor about his plan of treatment. I was informed that the left femur had been broken in two place and the accident had occurred more than 7 months prior. The bones were completely infected. If Derrick had not been admitted to hospital; he would have probably died of an overwhelming infection within a month.

The plan was to operate immediately and clean out the inside of all the infected bones pieces. Derrick would be on intravenous antibiotics and given protein enriched foods for healing and improved health. Since Dr. Musitwa was absolutely sure Derrick had been completely neglected in the village. He was not willing for the family to be given any money to purchase protein foods, or any other items which Derrick would need. Therefore, all of Derrick’s needs would be supplied by Dr. Musitwa’s clinic staff. They would buy the protein foods such as eggs, fish, beans, chicken, and milk and anything else necessary.

I went up to Masaka every week to do clinic business and to see Derrick. The family stayed and supported Derrick for the first week of his stay at the private clinic but by the second week they had excuses as to why they could not continue. “I have to go to school”…. “I have children to get ready for school”….. “I have a garden to plant.”…….. I need to get back to Kibaale and look after grandma.”…..

So, after discussions with the folks in Kibaale…. we hired a Post S-6 student; a student who is waiting to start university in August. Catherine did not have a job and needed money for school. What a perfect opportunity. Accommodation and all meals were provided…. all Catherine had to do was help look after Derrick…. cook his meals, wash his clothes, bath him since he had a very large dressing on his left upper leg and ensure he took his medications.

Each week I was excited to go and see what was happening with Derrick. He was changing before my eyes. He was no longer the invisible child in pain and full of sadness but was growing into a tall 12 year old youth. The picture included is a few weeks old and look at how tall and happy he has been come.

On March 7, two months after I first meet Derrick, he was discharge from Dr. Musitwa’s clinic… but where were we going to put him. No member of the family had come to visit him at the clinic after that first week. No one had come to the clinic in Kibaale to ask about where he was or how he was…. It looked like no one cared.

Once again…. there were discussions with the staff of Kibaale Community Centre especially the sponsorship office as well as the clinic staff….. Derrick needed to be sponsored for us to continue to look after him. He was suppose to be medically O.K. and therefore could go back to the village. BUT NO ONE WANTED HIM TO GO BACK TO THE VILLAGE.

Brad, once he heard about Derrick’s need immediately offered to sponsor him. So, we brought Derrick back to Kibaale and found a place for him to stay and put him in school. His village is a long way out and he still requires crutches to walk. Margaret, the mother of the family who were willing to take him in and care for him is a teacher. She recognized Derrick’s educational level very quickly. At his age, he should have been in Primary 4. We all thought that he was maybe a year of two behind in his schooling but that was not the case. Derick does not know how to write his own name, nor the letters of the alphabet, nor his numbers. He should be put into a Kindergarten class. No one agreed to that suggestion.

Last Friday, March 15, Derrick was placed in a very special boarding school 20 kilometers outside of Kibaale in a village called Ssanje. Everyone in Kibaale has been helping to solve the various problems regarding Derrick. Another member of the sponsorship office, Christine suggested we try a boarding school called Sabina Boarding Primary School. This school has been used in the past for two children who were found in the village never having an opportunity to attend school. These two children have done very well. Our hopes are that they will be successful with Derrick.

Today, March 19, I was told that the grandmother arrived a few hours after Derrick was taken to Ssanje. She was not willing to believe that he had gone to a boarding school… “Who is paying for his school fees?”

Sunday March 17, there was an open house at Sabina Boarding School…. grandmother was not willing to go for a visit but she gave Christine a few things for Derrick… a piece of sugar cane, a few ground nuts and a small amount of Matoke.

I have been told that Derrick’s story is not new….. there are many children abandoned or neglected all over Uganda. Families have too many children who they cannot provide the basics for forget about school.

Derrick may have been abandoned and neglected once a upon a time … but not now. He has been found, cared for and loved. He has a future and hope. All this because someone cared…to Brad and his family thanks.

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