August 08, 2006
Wickliff and his Grandma at the Mbale government hospital.
8 August 2006 After meeting Peter in Sibanga on Sunday, we met Wickliff. His grandmother sat outside her mud hut holding him close. Other children stood around her. She alone cares for her three grandchildren. Their father died and their mother abandoned them. Wickliff is three years old; light brown hair, lethargy, jaundice, and blatant weakness - all signs of his deteriorating physical condition. The grandmother told us she didn't know what to do for him. "I'm just waiting," she said. Waiting.
The elders said that the nearby clinic could not offer the care Wickliff needs. So, we arranged for grandma and Wickliff to travel to Mbale...
They arrived on Monday morning, and John (founder of PRID and gate guard at the CURE Children's hospital) met them at the taxi park. John spent the day going from a private clinic to the Joint Clinical Research center and finally, to the Mbale government hospital. He helped grandma navigate the complicated process of getting primary health care in Mbale(or anywhere in this country).
Wickliff was diagnosed with severe malnourishment and anemia. He received a blood transfusion that day. Today, they put him on a dextrose drip and began feeding him. I met with the doctor briefly this morning. He said Wickliff's condition is improving, but they need to keep him for a few more days. Grandma is becoming restless. She misses the village, and she wants to go home. She'll stay though. John and I have been visiting them, taking meals and buying them whatever they need. The hospital is scary - crowded, dirty, ill-equipped, dark, windows wide open, noisy, damp, bug infested, crowded, dirty. You walk through the corridors and wards hearing babies crying, stepping over rubbish, bumping into patients and visitors, wondering where the doctors and nurses are. And when you come to this Ugandan government hospital for treatment, you must buy EVERYTHING, from the pad of paper the doctor scribbles on to the gloves he wears. When I went to the hospital Monday night, the nurse said, "Wickliff is fine. He needs a dextrose drip. You can buy it for 1500Ush at the pharmacy." Earlier that day, John had to buy the mat for the hospital bed, gloves, pen, paper, needles, blood, medicines, cotton swabs...everything used to treat Wickliff.
Wickliff is getting better, but a lot of damage has already been done. He is only three and his brain and body are trying to develop, but without food, his physical and mental capacities are compromised. Some of the effects of malnutrition can be reversed. At this point, it is crucial to ensure that a consistent level of nutrition is maintained for Wickliff. Unfortunately, given the physical condition of Grandma, it is likely that food will continue to be scarce for this family unless someone intervenes. John's community-based organization, PRID, is trying to find solutions and answers to the problems of orphans and vulnerable children like Wickliff in Sibanga sub-county. John and the members of PRID are determined to help Wickliff. They'll find a way to make sure Wickliff has food to eat.
I'll go visit Wickliff tomorrow morning...I hope he smiles this time.
Posted by kmf23 at August 8, 2006 11:26 PM
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Kelly, you are a saint. We miss you. How is Peter's leg? Has it healed? What is the dental condition of these kids? Let me know how I can help. Dr Pav
Posted by: Dave Pavlick at August 16, 2006 05:56 AM
I will keep little Wickliff in my prayers.
Posted by: emily at August 9, 2006 06:58 AM