Nodding Mothers Struggle To Raise Own Children

1632 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Several young mothers suffering from nodding syndrome in Kitgum district are facing severe difficulties in raising their children. The teenagers unwillingly became mothers after they were defiled by men who shortly abandoned them after conception. Some underwent successful caesarean operations while others experienced normal labour.

Several young mothers suffering from nodding syndrome in Kitgum district are facing severe difficulties in raising their children.
 
The teenagers unwillingly became mothers after they were defiled by men who shortly abandoned them after conception. Some underwent successful caesarean operations while others experienced normal labour.
 
Families of these young women say becoming mothers has doubled the burden of caring for the already troubled family members. In Akwang Sub County, 12 of the young women often move from office to office with their caretakers and children to solicit for help in raising their children.
 
Santa Lamwaka Oloya, the Akwang Sub County Chairperson, says most needs of the families are food, milk, clothing and medical care. She says some of the young women were defiled by relatives who should have cared for them.
 
According to Lamwaka some of the men are on remand while others are on the run to evade justice. She says areas worst affected by nodding syndrome in Akwang Sub County include villages of Bola, Tumangur and Panykel, where several children are being treated for the strange ailment.
 
Joe Otto, the Chairperson of Kitgum district Village Health Teams (VHTs), says the situation of the children and their young mothers is appalling. Otto says food rations provided by government are out of stock. He says even when in store, the rations are too small to feed the family for the expected duration.
 
According to Lamwaka, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a faith based charity with offices in the sub county, has intervened in the lives of the young women by drilling for them boreholes to prevent them drowning in open water sources while fetching water. She says sometimes the charity supplies them with essential relief items.
 
Forty-eight-year-old Michael Odur has two children with nodding syndrome. He says caring for the children and their mothers is a lot of hard work that does not leave them adequate time to concentrate on farming and provide for the family.
 
Odur appealed to government to consistently resume the supply of food rations to improve the conditions of the children.
 
Kitgum district embarked on the construction of a treatment centre in Tumangu village, the worst affected area to take services closer to the people after Hopes For Human, a Gulu based charity expressed interest to construct a day care center there.