It Takes a Village
In Africa’s remote villages, it is not uncommon for families to abandon or abuse a child due to mental and physical disorders. Outdated beliefs related to the physical and mental conditions contribute to the neglect and abuse of thousands of children a year in Africa. Beliefs about God bringing punishment on the family because of disobedience or evidence of witchcraft perpetuate the stigma related to disabilities. In the remote villages, these stigmas are often held by those with the least access to education and modern society’s influence. Remaining the standard justification for families to abandon and abuse children facing a disability. Abdu and his older sister Abdalla lived this reality in a remote village in Nambieso, a sub-county of Uganda.
In the summer of 2020, partners of Gateway 2 Missions came across two children, a boy age 9 (Abdu) and his 12-year-old sister (Abdalla). The children were left behind by a family member because of the sons’ disability. Their elder brother lacked the resources to care for the children, and the community stepped in when they could to feed the children. For the most part, the children lived in an abandoned house for several months, alone, before we had met them. The community had been doing their best to care for the two children, but their needs far outweighed the support. Despite their efforts, the children needed meals, clothes, and water for daily maintenance and a home to call their own. Our partners embraced these children and set out to help them overcome their situation.
The team set out to evaluate the circumstances of the young boy and his sister. It was decided that acquiring land for the children would be necessary for long-term security. After making provision for the children to receive food and clothing through our voucher program, our partners set out to secure a land plot for the children and their elder brother. In July of 2020, our partners found a plot of land costing four million Ugandan shillings, which is $1,091.86 US dollars. Our partners had raised enough funds to deposit for the land but still needed about 725 US dollars to fully purchase the land. Through our Facebook campaigns, Gateway 2 Missions raised the remaining funds for the deposit. Together we bought the land for the two children and transferred the land in the sister’s name. She is now a young woman who owns land in Africa, a rare accomplishment.
Disabilities are not a punishment from God nor evidence of witchcraft but an impairment of the body and mind that affects millions of people worldwide. Many disabilities in Africa are a result of war, environmental hazards, and birth defects. Understanding disabilities is the first step to minimizing stigmas and changing a belief.
The village in Nambieso did their best to provide for the orphaned children and are credited with their survival. Today, the children are looked after by their elder brother and our partners. We are currently working to build a dwelling unit for the family to reside in. We’ll continue to provide support to the children through our voucher program. By stepping up and supporting orphaned children, we are pioneering a movement of God and planting seeds of faith in their lives. It is through operations like this that we can do just that. Gateway 2 Missions diligently works to educate, elevate, and uplift individuals who are experiencing poverty.
*Names are changed for the protection of the children.
“Changing attitudes to child disability in Africa.” The Lancet (2014): https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62320-5/fulltext#articleInformation. website.
Parrotte, Kelsey. The Borgen Project. July 6th, 2015. website. April 1st, 2021. <https://borgenproject.org/disability-africa-increasing/#:~:text=Disability%20in%20Africa%20is%20very,according%20to%20the%20United%20Nations.>.