Desire, Uganda

On February 18, 2020, Noah’s Ark received a phone call from the Ntenjeru police station informing them that a severely malnourished girl had been brought in. According to the police, the child was seriously injured and in urgent need of medical care. Despite Noah’s Ark not having space for new children, the ambulance still headed to the police station. After a one-hour journey, the ambulance arrived at the police station with a doctor and someone from the clinic. This police station was unlike the ones we know in the Netherlands. Inside, it looked old, with walls covered in various laws written on paper.

When the doctor asked what had happened to the child, the friendly police officer explained that she had been abused by her aunt. The girl had initially been taken to her grandmother by her mother because she couldn’t take care of her daughter. In Uganda, it is not uncommon for a baby to be given to someone who can provide better care out of love. This way, the child grows up in a healthier environment than if they were to stay with their parent(s). However, after a few years, the grandmother could no longer care for her granddaughter, so the girl moved in with an aunt who subsequently abused her. She was severely malnourished when she arrived at the police station.

Six-year-old Desire, due to malnutrition, looked like a four-year-old. Her mother was so shocked by this that she, with the help of a neighbor, removed Desire from her aunt and brought her to the police. Now she lay on a bench at the police station in great pain. The pain was caused by a subcutaneous abscess in her leg that had become infected. Combined with malnutrition, it was especially painful for a young girl. To determine the source of the pain, the doctor asked her to try to stand up. She did so while the pain was evident on her face. After a few other checks, the doctor decided to take Desire to Noah’s Ark clinic.

The ambulance went to the mother’s house to pick up some clothes and other necessary items for the upcoming days. Upon arrival at the clinic, two beds were already prepared for the mother and daughter. They would have to stay there for a few days for Desire’s leg to be treated and for her to regain strength.

After just a few days, Desire’s condition improved. The abscess in her leg was almost healed, and she had even gained some weight. Instead of pain, you could see joy and gratitude in her eyes. She still needed to stay at the clinic for a few more days for further observation. In the meantime, the mother received tips on how to take good care of her daughter. This increased the clinic’s confidence in allowing Desire to return home with her mother.

During the 14 days Desire stayed at the clinic, the mother did not have to pay any money. The costs were covered by donations received through Noah’s Ark.