Colin makes James laugh while they play with a little toy car.
As we walked down the hall of TASO’s medical wing on Monday, we could hear the screams and crying of young boy. We peeked through the window and saw the doctor taking James’ blood for his regular check-up screening (CD4 count and other vitals). Charles held tightly as James tried to wiggle out of his arms and escape the procedure. James cheered up when he saw us, but he was still gasping for air after all that crying. The doctor said his last CD4 count, taken six months ago, was still high. James is not yet on ART.
Martha, Charles and James’ TASO counselor, sat down with us to discuss ways to further empower Charles to care for his brothers. We agreed to open him a bank account with Martha as co-signer to ensure the money is spent appropriately. Hopefully, we’ll get this worked out before we leave.
On Tuesday, we visited Charles and James at their home with Juma (the CURE employee that oversaw the reconstruction of their home last summer). We walked to the front door calling the childrens’ names, but the place seemed empty. A young mother and her child sat quietly on the right side of the home watching groundnuts dry in the sun. We found James fast asleep on the foam mattress. Flies congregated atop the untouched porridge his brothers prepared for him. James obviously didn’t want to eat porridge again. It took him a few minutes to wake fully. He sat up and began to smile.
James, still half alseep, rests near his bed.
Charles arrived, and then two of the other brothers filed in. Charles stopped going to school awhile back. He is 17 years old and he has not finished Primary-6 (5th grade). We talked to him about what he wants and he said school would be ideal but it’s impossible. Juma told him that he could manage to go to school and still care for James. Colin’s mother, Loretta, sent a huge package of gifts to Charles and James last summer, including a 300 page coloring & activity book. Charles gave us the completed book and asked us to present it to Loretta as a gift. Charles enjoys creative expression…he decorated that chicken coop and turned it into a grand village suite, he colors, he draws. School could be his safe haven. It could be a safe haven for so many children here. We give Charles and James and other children some chickens and bicycles so that they can make money, but the real money making comes with an education. The chickens and bicycle will turn profit, but not nearly enough to feed, cloth, transport, and educate a family of six boys. Katie and Stelio Flamos made a recent donation intended for school fees for some of the children; we plan on supporting Charles with some of those funds.
When we left, Charles was coloring and James was sitting on the front stoop playing with his toy car. Later that afternoon at TASO we learned that a suitcase full of clothes for James had arrived from Kampala, supposedly from the American woman that pledged money for their maid and six months of food.
We’ll see Charles and James next week when we deliver the replacement chickens to most of the participating families.
The bride and her attendants sit under the decorated canopy during the ceremony; neighborhood children watch curiously from afar.
Michael, a driver at TASO, invited us to attend his daughter’s Kwanjula on Sunday afternoon. A Kwanjula is a traditional Ugandan engagement/wedding ceremony that involves the formal introduction of the groom and his family to the bride’s family. There are processions of gifts and payment of dowry. An emcee officiates and entertains guests. Music plays, aunties and friends howl, and the bride and her attendants sport custom Ugandan dresses, the gomesi, in every color and pattern imaginable. We sat with some TASO staff and they translated for us and helped us understand what was going on. Colin held Charity’s sweet daughter, Melanie.
Melanie soaks up the love and attention from her new biggest fan – Colin.
May 30th, 2007