By Victoria Kateme
Growing up in large Ugandan families, we were nurtured by many mothers. A good number of them were family members, and the other half were older women in the village who cared for us as well as our own mothers would. Not a lot has changed for the younger children that RIBHO reaches with a meal or two.
“I am happy to have a mother figure”, says Ambrose an eleven year old boy primary five. The end of this year he would be moving along to primary six, but with COVID-19 school is still suspended in all of Uganda and is likely to remain that way for the rest of the year.
Ambrose was born with pediatric HIV and he also has a hearing impairment. After the death of his mother who passed on when Ambrose was three years old, he was given to the full care of his beloved father. Although the father does not have a stable job, for a while now, they have done relatively well. The father has done a great job of making life comfortable for his son Ambrose, until this March, when COVID-19 brought work to a standstill for so many people like Ambrose’s father.
Through RIBHO’s feeding program, Ambrose not only has access to nutritious foods, he has also found a “mother figure” as he says, in one of the female volunteers assigned to him as to this boy to help him boost his immunity, but also the female volunteer social worker assigned to him. “She reminds me of my mother. She listens to me, and shows mw love. She also says inspiring messages to me. I thank God for her”, says Ambrose with a large smile.
During the June home visit, we found Ambrose at home alone. His father was out looking for work. For our usual prayer time at the end of the visit, Ambrose hoped that God would heal him and enable him to hear properly. You see, it is very difficult for him to hear everything we say, which frustrates him. For those patient enough to carry on a conversation with him, Ambrose rewards with a happy facial expression of both joy and relief.
When a watchful neighbor pooped around to see who was visiting with Ambrose, we identified ourselves as RIBHO volunteers. Nonetheless, she asked Ambrose directly, “Who are these people?” to which he replied, happily, “The mothers have come.” His simple but full matter of fact statement speaks volumes, especially when it comes from such an innocent loving and brave child.