| Apr 23, 2015
The following is a story by Patty Hutton, Medical Team International's manager of Africa Programs, about a recent experience she had in Uganda.
I felt the hot sun scorch my face, as I bolted from the car to the nearest tree with shade I could find.
I was in Pader, Uganda, visiting a program where Medical Teams International provides medicine and assistance to children suffering from Nodding Syndrome. The syndrome itself is somewhat under-researched, as no one has yet been able to truly pinpoint what causes it. The disease targets children in certain regions of Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania.
The mysterious disease causes children to have seizure-like episodes, especially when they smell food. These episodes cause the children to be stigmatized, and because of Nodding they are often stunted or malnourished. I watched as a mother took some Depakote, an anti-seizure drug packed by our wonderful volunteers at the Distribution Center, and gave it to her child. Immediately after, she fed her son. Only with the medicine could he eat without having an episode.
As I scanned the area, my eyes met with a girl making necklaces who gave me a sly smile. Her name was Eunice and although she looked as though she couldn’t be older than 9, she was actually 15. She had Nodding Syndrome, which had stunted her growth.
Through the assistance provided by MTI, 90 kids with Nodding Syndrome have been able to go back to school because of occupational therapy, medicine and assistance. Mercy, an occupational therapist in Uganda, explained to me that the therapy helps children do a variety of activities, from holding a pencil to finding work.
As I sat with Eunice, I asked what she wanted to do when she grew up. She said she wanted to be a doctor. I asked the other kids what they wanted to be as well, and the answers were teacher and a policeman, just to name a couple. I smiled as I told them, “Yes, I think you will be a good one,” knowing that I can say that after seeing what MTI has been able to do.
-- Patty Hutton
Providing equitable health services in Northern Uganda, where Pader is located, remain big concerns. HIV and AIDS flourish in the area, and Nodding Syndrome continues to befuddle medical experts. Your donations help children afflicted by these diseases.