Report on the work of The Wellspring Children's Medical Centre & The Wellspring Home for Disabled and Disadvantaged Children

Following on from the Medcare team visit in August 2022

On August 6th 2022, a Medcare team travelled to Uganda to observe the conditions under which the Wellspring Children’s Medical Centre and the Wellspring Home for Disabled and Disadvantaged Children were working, following the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the present drought in Uganda and the additional problem of grain supplies from Ukraine.

The medical centre was very busy every day, with an increasing number of children coming for medical assistance each week. These children were presenting with malaria, AIDS, TB, and the usual childhood diseases, together with an increase in cases of cerebral palsy seen in the physiotherapy department and many more children being treated for malnutrition.

The strict Ugandan COVID lockdown has caused many families to be disrupted, with parents leaving their children in the care of elderly relatives as they seek occupation in Kampala. This has resulted in an increase in families of 10 or more children being cared for by an elderly relative, with no fixed source of income. The present drought has disrupted the production of food in Uganda and, together with the lack of grain supplies from Ukraine, has caused a shortage of available food throughout the country. The costs of fuel and food have risen steeply, as with the rest of the world, but in a country where poverty is common this has turned a hungry child into a severely malnourished child, and many are now starving in the villages supported by Wellspring. 

Knowing, in advance, of some of the difficulties families are now facing in the Ugandan villages, Medcare set out an appeal prior to this trip to raise funds to assist some of the more seriously affected families supported by Wellspring. The response was immediate and we wish to thank all those who have donated to this appeal. As a result, when in Uganda, the team were able to supply mattresses, bedding, soap and maize to 15 families seen on outreach, and donations of maize are also being distributed next month. Many of these families were desperate for food and their children had not eaten for over 24 hours, with no sign of a meal to be found that day. God miraculously provided for a number of families that week!

Here are some of their stories:

  • Shanitah: Sickle Cell Disease - sponsored child. She lives with her mother and 9 other children, in a house with bare brick walls, a rough floor and no doors. All the children sleep on one old mattress. They all lie their heads on the mattress with their bodies on the ground. Their mother is struggling to feed all the children. 2 new mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were delivered by the team.
  • Christopher and Harriet: HIV and the after effects of cerebral malaria. Both children are sponsored. The children live with 9 other children and their grandmother in one small room. The grandmother works as a Village Health Worker (as a volunteer) and also helps William (Wellspring sponsorship manager) and Allen (social worker) on ‘COI’ days. She is a peasant farmer and the family are extremely poor. The children often only have one meal a day and they have very ragged clothing. The grandmother has been able to acquire a small piece of land. This family urgently needs a home of their own.  Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were delivered by the team.
  • Jovia: 11 years old - HIV - sponsored child. Jovia lives with her grandmother and 9 other children. The children are all starving. They only have supper, eaten when Jovia has to take her tablets, but there is very little to eat. The youngest twins in the family have recently been admitted to hospital with malnutrition. Goods were delivered to the family as above. Despite their desperate situation they insisted on presenting Pauline with a live chicken!
  • Shanitah: HIV - 12 years old. Not sponsored. There are 15 children in this family cared for by their grandmother. To obtain Shanitah’s ARTs each month she has to walk 12km to Wellspring and then take a borda borda (motor bike taxi) to Masaka. The family are finding it difficult to find the funds for her transport. The children often fall sick with malaria because they live close to a lake. They only eat once a day. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given to this family by the team.
  • Peter: HIV - On sponsorship waiting list, 9 years old. One sibling has died from HIV. Lives with his mother and 3 other children, twin girls aged 2 years, and 7-year-old cousin. Abandoned by their father, living in rental accommodation. Children are starving. Peter at great risk. Medcare team gave mattresses, bedding , soap and maize.
  • Phiona: HIV – Sponsored. Lives in one room of a rental house with grandmother and 6 other children. They often don’t eat anything in 24 hours. Phiona was doing well with her HIV and had a suppressed viral load. Then the grandfather threw them out and now they struggle to find food. Phiona is now losing weight and has a viral count of 13,155. She is at great risk. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given.
  • Gift: Sponsored - HIV - 10 years old. Living with grandmother. 13 children. All the children are starving. Goods were given as above.
  • Grace: HIV - Mother is mentally unstable. Grace lives with foster mother with 4 other children, one of which also has HIV. Her foster mother is now struggling to find food for the children.  She is a pastor. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given. 
  • Badrina: Sickle Cell Disease. Lives with grandmother and 12 other children. Badrina is often sick and in pain but they cannot afford any medication for her. They all live in one room and are always short of food. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given to the family.
  • Jackson Kayemba: First put on waiting list when he was 1 year old. He is now 5. His mother is 22 years old. She has 2 other children, aged 4 and 6 years old. 2 of the children have Sickle Cell Disease but their mother (pictured above) cannot afford their medication. She was told by both her husband’s family and her own family to get rid of the children. She refused and she was totally abandoned. She does not know what to do to feed her children and is suicidal. She was constantly crying and looked completely hopeless. Jackson needs to find a sponsor urgently. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given to the family. This family need URGENT ASSISTANCE.
  • Ruth: 3 years old. Spina Bifida. Has a twin named Milly.  Abandoned by father. 6 children in the home. Their guardian cannot afford transport to physiotherapy and they are struggling to find enough food for the family. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given to the family.
  • Abigail: Sickle Cell Disease. 8 years old. Lives with grandmother and 5 other children in a rental house, all living in one room. Abigail’s brother died from a Sickle Cell Crisis last year. Abigail looks jaundiced and anaemic. She was taken to Wellspring to check her haemoglobin. Transport costs were provided for a weekly review for the next 4 weeks. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given.
  • Edward: Epileptic. 6 children in family, 2 of whom have epilepsy. They live with their mother but have been abandoned by their father. They have no food and cannot afford antiepileptic drugs. Both children at great risk. (The eldest child was born when her mother was 14 years of age.) Goods were distributed as above.
  • Abas: HIV - 8 years old. Father has died and mother scavenges on rubbish tips or at the markets for food. 3 children in the family. Had not eaten for two days  and no food in the house. Their mother didn’t know what to feed them on. She was overwhelmed by the gift of maize from the Medcare team. Mattresses, bedding and soap were also given.
  • Trevor: HIV – Sponsored. Living with grandmother. 15 children and very hungry. Mattresses, bedding, soap and maize were given to the family.

On visiting the Home for Disabled and Disadvantaged Children, all the children looked cheerful, healthy and well nourished. However, it was noted that there were a number of new children now in residence at the home. Over the past 12 months a number of children previously at the home had been re-integrated into village life, either going back to the care of their families. or to new foster parents. These changes have only been made follow intense counseling of the child’s families and the children, and a rigorous investigation as to which foster families could care for handicapped disabled children.

The home is regulated by the Ugandan health and probational services and the maximum number of children who can be house there is 42. This also equates to the number of dormitories and beds, which have been provided in the home. 

Over the past 12 months, therefore, additional children have been sent to the home, many of them having been sent via the police or probation officers. 

11 new children are now living with Noeline and her helpers in the home. 8 of these children suffer from cerebral palsy (CP) and many of their stories are very similar:

  • Prossy Namuddu: CP – age unknown - ?6 years old. Abandoned in a house with another child, who may have been her brother. The other child was taken out of the house and Prossy was left on her own. She was so hungry when found, that she was eating grass. She is very happy with Noeline but continually runs off – hence the need for fencing of the property surrounding the home. Noeline is trying to obtain a care order for her so she can grow up in the home. She was very frightened when first taken to the home and couldn’t talk but is now happy and can speak. She is incontinent and requires nappies. 
  • Tony Tendo: 2 years old – CP. Tony was literally thrown out onto the street and left alone. He was found by the police, but they have had no success in finding his family. When taken to Noeline’s he was severely malnourished and could not speak. He does however recognize people. He is also incontinent and requires nappies.
  • Esther: 12 years old – CP; Cathy: 6 years old – epileptic and deaf; Gift: – 4 years old – deaf and CP. Sisters. They were brought to Noeline by a stranger asking for food, but the stranger ran off leaving the children at the home. Police have been looking for their parents for the past 2 months. Gift is to be taken to the school for the deaf. Cathy requires physiotherapy. Esther looks after her little sister despite her own handicap.
  • Charles Mulema: 8 years old – epilepsy and CP. His mother is mentally disturbed. She used to lock Charles in the house all day. His epilepsy was untreated and, as a consequence, he now also suffers from CP. He was found by the police and was admitted to hospital. On discharge he was put into Noeline’s care. When he first came to the home he was fed with a nasogastric tube but he is now eating normally. He is now well nourished, attends physiotherapy and is loved and secure. He is not used to being with other people and is often found alone. He is incontinent and requires nappies.
  • Hakim Ndawula: Age unknown – severe CP and self harming. Hakim was taken to Wellspring physiotherapy by his step-mother, who then left him and disappeared. Hakim is the most needy of Noeline’s children. He continually bangs his head and has to have his arms confined to stop him scratching and picking at himself and causing injury. For his safety he needs a large soft mat (such as is used in physiotherapy), a specially padded cot and an adapted wheelchair. He also needs a carer of his own because of his serious needs. It has been difficult to take him to physiotherapy because he cannot be held still on a Bord borda. It has been proposed that Wellspring sends their van to the home each morning, picking up all the children who need physiotherapy, including Hakim, and taking them home at the end of the day. He is also incontinent and requires nappies. 
  • Maria Nanyondo: 8 years old – deaf. Maria was found wandering the streets and taken to Noeline. Her family are unknown, and her age is an estimate. Since living at Noeline’s she has learned sign language and has started at the school for the deaf, where she is eager to learn and is a good pupil. The school report that she has told them that her grandfather killed her mother and then the community killed her grandfather, but this cannot be verified. 
  • Carlos Wasiajja: 8 years old – epilepsy and CP. Carlos has also been abused by his family. His grandmother used to lock him in the house all day on his own with no food or water. Since he also did not receive any medication for his epilepsy he now also suffers from CP. He is also incontinent and requires nappies. 
  • Steven: 8 years old – epilepsy & CP. Steven was found by Wellspring health workers, He had been abandoned to the care of his grandfather, who kept him tied up in a small house all day, with no clothes, no food, no medication and no expressions of love. His grandfather treated him worse than his animals and hoped for Steven to die. The police and probation officers became involved and they agreed to let him be taken to Noeline’s. On visiting him there in August, he was clean, and well nourished and was cared for lovingly by Noeline, her staff and the other children. He is also incontinent and requires nappies. 

An additional child who was sent to live at Noeline’s has a very tragic story:

  • Musa: 15 years old. Osteosarcoma of his left arm, which was amputated. When he was 18 months old he was abandoned in a dustbin and found and taken to the police. A home was found for him although he was never really accepted into that home. Last year he began to develop a painful swollen left arm. His parents and siblings became alarmed that he might be seriously ill and threw him out. They said that if he was going to die they did not want him buried on their land. So once again he was abandoned and was found again by the police. He was taken to Masaka Hospital where they amputated his arm. He was then taken to Noeline for care. Further investigations shows that he has lung secondaries. He is sometimes short of breath and experiences chest pain. He is now terminally ill. He is the first child at Noeline’s to have a care order so that Noeline can nurse him until he dies. He is to be taken to Kampala to the Cancer Centre for advice on palliative care. He has been bought an iPad so that he can play some games on it to keep him occupied.  

Since writing this report, Musa (pictured left) suddenly on his way to the cancer hospital for palliative care. His suffering is now over. He is in the presence now of Jesus who will restore to him all he was denied in life. It is hard working with children who suffer so much in their short lives. However, Medcare believes that we have to continue to work, with the help of God, to continue saving as many lives as we can. And for those who we cannot save, we are called to provide hope, love and a freedom from suffering, secure in the knowledge of Jesus’ very great love for them. 

So many of these children’s stories are heartbreaking and tragic but Noeline and her staff at the home provide them with, the love and care they have never experienced before in their young lives, and also provide them with dignity and a true sense of worth, whatever their handicap or life circumstance.

One amazing piece of news, in the midst of all these serious issues, is that Medcare have been offered a substantial legacy to help us develop our care of disabled children, in particular those with cerebral palsy. In the light of the stories of some of the children presently living with Noleine, this development is very opportune. A Community Based Rehabilitation outreach service is to begin in the autumn and will be the for-runner of a new unit to be built on the Wellspring site dedicated to the care of disabled children. We have an amazing God who works ahead of us and provides at just the right time! Sustainability of this new project together with the Medical Centre and the Children’s Home is at the for-front of the thoughts and prayers of our Trustees and we would greatly value your continued prayers for all that God has in store for the children, through Medcare, in the year ahead. 

As a result of the observations made during this trip, Medcare plans to share more of the desperate needs of the children with our contacts and supporters and beyond. While we are aware of the many needs of families and the vulnerable in the UK at present, the needs of the children in Uganda are urgent and life threatening. 

Please continue to keep the work of Medcare in Uganda in your thoughts and prayers. 

Thank you, as always, for your support. 



Dr Pauline Hutchinson, Medcare founder and trustee


Call: 01928 740538 or 07720 848888


12th September 2022

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