Lukabwe provides hope for disabled children

Disabled children and caretakers at Home of Hope facility

In 2002, Edith Lukabwe’s two-year-old son Derrick was diagnosed with meningitis and suffered brain damage leaving him severely disabled with frequent convulsions and breathing difficulties.

In dealing with her own son’s disability, Lukabwe came to know many other mothers, grandmothers and families in the Jinja community who were struggling terribly trying to cope with disabled children and grandchildren.

In 2007, Lukabwe, with very limited funds and herself trying to recuperate from an accident which left her spinal cord and hip fractured, started the Home of Hope for disabled children.

Starting with five children as well as her son Derrick, Lukabwe and her staff now care for almost 91 children as young as seven months many with severe disabilities and some abandoned by parents and relatives unable to cope.

Home of Hope receives no government funding and Lukabwe’s monthly expenses for food, medications, surgeries and doctor’s care, utilities, wheelchairs, equipment and staffing often exceeds the revenue from donations.

Recently, the home received donations from a group of well-wishers from Kampala to enable the vulnerable children go through the festival season with a smile. These included various food items, drinks, clothes, beddings, toiletries and toys. Lukabwe said that she got so many disabled children during the Covid-19 period as many parents abandoned them.

“We do a lot of community outreaches; we visit parents with children with disabilities and we give them medication for epilepsy, train how to take care of such children, encourage to accept them as they are. But because of Covid, for a full year we were not doing these outreaches so many parents ended up abandoning these kids and we had to pick them up and take care of them. Some would be referred here by the district probation officers after picking them from the villages where they have been abandoned by their parents,” she said.

The services offered at the home include physical exercises, medication for epilepsy, education for those who can go to school, community outreaches, centre based therapy and care, epilepsy medication, adaptive aids, nutrition support, child school sponsorships, support for corrective surgery, drop in and general clinics among others.

“We also have our own hospital where the children get quick medical services. At the hospital, other children from the community who are disabled get free medical services but other normal community members get the services at a fee because we are a self-sustainable based organization,” Lukabwe added.

The main challenge Lukabwe said they are facing is inadequate funding especially for the purchase of medicines for psychiatry which is very expensive yet most of the children have to take it every day to control their seizures.

She also noted that feeding the children has also become very expensive especially during this period when the prices of commodities is very high yet the children need to feed on a balanced diet.

“We also lack adequate funds to pay the staff members because we don’t have volunteers on ground who work for free. We mainly depend on funds from friends and well-wishers which contributions are mainly a one off; therefore, we don’t have a stable source of funds especially for the day to day running of the home.”

The children at the home not only come from Jinja or Busoga region but from all parts of the country.

Source: The Observer

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