I met Jackline Mbabazi during the medical camp in Zirobwe, when one of the volunteers brought her to me urgently because they had never seen anything like her condition before. She had profound hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. Despite her body being the size of a 4-month-old, because of abnormal fluid build-up in her brain, her head was nearly the size of a basketball and was tense with pressure. She couldn’t even sit up or move her eyes upward, and she had developed problems eating. She was constantly uncomfortable. With the help of the Empower a Child, we began to talk about how we could help Jackline and her mother get the surgical help she would need to relieve the pressure on her brain and ultimately save her life.
It’s certainly not easy to get a child in a rural Ugandan village to a hospital that has neurosurgical capabilities. What happened next was a cross-cultural, cross-continental, prayerful undertaking that brought Jackline and her mother, with the help of Empower a Child, 300 km away over bumpy roads to a Cure Hospital in Mbale. Uganda. There, with the financial support of the Zirobwe medical team and the orchestration and company of Felix Kisa and Israel Musisi, the compassionate Empower a Child staff, Jackline had life-saving surgery and started her long road to recovery.
When I see pictures of Jackline and her mom now, I’m amazed at how much she has grown in just a few months. She has a long recovery ahead, strengthening weak neck muscles that have never been used before, learning how to roll and sit without support. But I see hope in her eyes. And I see hope in her mother’s smile as she cares for the daughter she thought would never survive. And I am thankful that through Empower a Child, ordinary people working together across cultures and continents can make a difference in the life of a child.
by Dr. Susan Bourterse