Kitgum , Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Archbishop John Baptist Odama Care Center for children suffering from nodding syndrome is seeking 2.1 billion Shillings.
The idea of establishing the center was conceived in 2021, after the care center in Odek sub-county in Omoro district closed.
The center located at St. Bakhita, a former secondary school in Pongdwongo parish in pager division, Kitgum municipality, is expected to start operating in September 2022.
Rev. Fr. Anthony Nyeko, the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Kitgum, says the care center will help children suffering from nodding children, epilepsy, and the elderly who have been abandoned.
Rev Fr. Nyeko said they expect to start by hosting 550 children who are most vulnerable at the center. The children will be chosen from all the districts in Acholi and Lango sub-regions that have children suffering from nodding syndrome.
He said a ward will be opened at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where the children will be offered nutrition and language therapy for those who cannot speak.
One of the sustainability plans the organization has is to engage in large-scale agriculture.
Fr. Nyeko says that the children suffering from nodding syndrome are vegetarian, a reason why they want a bigger part of the money injected in mechanized agriculture that is irrigation fed.
Part of the money will also be given to support families affected by nodding syndrome, many of whom have lost hope because they are always confined with their children and have limited time to do income-generating activities.
To ensure a sustainable source of food, the care center will request land from the affected families, and open at least two acres of land so that part of the food is taken to the care center and some remains for the family.
He said the main crops they intend to plant are maize, beans, sunflower, and soybeans.
It is hoped that the care center will also protect the children from sexual abuse. Statistics from Labongo Amida and Labongo Akwang sub-counties indicate that at least 180 children suffering from nodding syndrome have been impregnated, with some having as many as four children.
Since all the men who impregnate the nodding syndrome children deny responsibility, it has added more burden to the parents who have to take care of their sick children and the grandchildren, amid limited resources.
Fr. Nyeko said the care center will also empower the girls with nodding syndrome who are now mothers, to start up income-generating activities so that they are self-reliant.
It is expected that in the near future a vocational center will be opened to skill the children who have recovered in tailoring, carpentry, and other crafts.
Fr. Nyeko appealed to the government, well-wishers, cultural chiefs, and the Acholi in the diaspora to support the care center with funds, adding that the organization is not-for-profit and can’t do it all alone.