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Disability- At 14 Bagomba can’t talk or walk

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th June 2009 03:00 AM

HE rests on his bed under a mosquito net. But the appearance of a stranger scares him, prompting him to make a strange sound. His eyes roll from side to side trying to make sense of what is going on.

HE rests on his bed under a mosquito net. But the appearance of a stranger scares him, prompting him to make a strange sound. His eyes roll from side to side trying to make sense of what is going on.

By George Bita

HE rests on his bed under a mosquito net. But the appearance of a stranger scares him, prompting him to make a strange sound. His eyes roll from side to side trying to make sense of what is going on.

When Eric Bagomba notices there is a camera, he starts shaking uncontrollably. He is not fond of camera flashes.

His grandmother, Kekurina Naikoba, walks over to him, removes the net and lifts him off the bed. In the process, she exposes his emaciated body. It is time to clean up her grandson and feed him on milk.

Such is the routine Naikoba must go through everyday. She rents a house on Saza Road in Iganga town. Unlike most 14-year-olds, Bagomba cannot walk or talk and has to be fed like a baby.

He suffers from multiple disabilities. Naikoba has to stock a lot of milk because her grandson turns aggressive every time he cannot have it. “When you serve him tea, he spits it out,” she says.

According to Naikoba, there are times when Bagomba vomits for days. Cleaning him up is tedious.

“Due to his disability, he cannot inform you when he wants to pass stool or urinate. It is the smell of his excreta that lets you know,” she says.

Naikoba works as a nursing assistant in Iganga Hospital. She leaves Bagomba locked up in the house until she returns. “Once I give him his milk, I close the door and go to work.

He is used to this schedule and gives me a welcoming smile when I return,” says Naikoba. But a day away means Bagomba has no one to clean him, so by the time Naikoba returns, he is usually soiled and the house stinking.

His parents died of HIV/AIDS. “Bagomba will turn 15 on November 20. His father Robert Kabuye was my son. He met Rosemary Namutebi while at Makerere University in 1993,” she says.

Naikoba says they noticed there was a problem with Bagomba when he was nine months old. “When breastfeeding, he would clutch his fingers so tightly.

I advised his parents to take him to Mulago and Namirembe Hospitals. A series of tests revealed that he had a problem with his spine.”

Naikoba says Bagomba would lean backwards instead of holding his head straight up. A few months later, the disability became obvious.
He was operated on the left leg in 1996. His mother died in 1997 and his father in 1999.

“The right leg seems to be painful as sometimes he kicks out letting off inaudible sounds,” Naikoba says.

But when Bagomba hears children playing outside his window, he smiles broadly and makes gestures as if in an attempt to join them.

Bagomba’s sister Milly Nambogga, 16, studies at St. Maria Gorretti S.S. in Fort Portal.

“I separated him from his sister because whenever she is near him, she cries, saying they have been left alone in this hostile world.”

Naikoba has been angered by individuals who have taken pictures of Bagomba and used them for selfish gains, purporting to get him assistance.

“I know people who are earning from my grandson’s plight. I am told cash donations have been made but I do not receive this money,” she discloses.

Dr. James Othieno, a surgeon at Iganga Hospital, says the Lions Club of Iganga intends to provide Bagomba with a special wooden chair on which he can easily pass excreta without being moved.

According to Othieno, the boy’s condition has puzzled experts. “I first saw this boy in November last year and took a report to the Lions Club. They made arrangements for the chair,” Othieno adds.

He believes there is nothing much that can be done for the deformity apart from helping the grandmother, who is due for retirement. She needs money to look after Bagomba.

Dr. David Muwanguzi, the Iganga district health officer, says there was a similar case of a peculiar disability in Bugiri district involving an Asian man who died at the age of 42.

Lions Club has also donated a mobile phone, number 0781588688, to Naikoba so that well wishers can get to her directly.

Disability- At 14 Bagomba can’t talk or walk

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