In honor of Mother’s Day, this month we’ll be sharing the stories of moms who inspire us with their unwavering commitment to raising their child living with special needs despite the cultural stigma surrounding disability in Uganda. These trailblazing women are resisting the status quo and advocating for the rights of their child. They’re doing everything in their power to help their child grow, thrive and reach their full potential. We’re honored to see the love and joy in these families every day!
We're excited to share our first highlight story with you today. Will you join us in supporting and championing women in Uganda this month?
In 2015, we first met Madina, the mother of Shamira; a little girl born with Down syndrome. At the time, their living situation was unstable. Unable to afford rent, they were forced to move between different houses where they stayed with friends or relatives. Our social workers saw that Madina wanted to provide the best possible life for Shamira and we knew the constant moving was negatively impacting them. Shamira wasn't in the best of health, she wasn't in school and Madina didn't have the income to change this. We offered her a job at our Residential Care home so that she would have a sustainable income to provide for her family. As soon as she started, Madina and her two children temporarily moved into our Emergency Housing so she could save up enough money for them to move into their own home.
Today Madina and her children are living in their own home close to Ekisa! Shamira enjoys attending Ekisa Academy while her mom works in the laundry department at our Residential Care home.
We've seen so much transformation in this family since we first met them, but one thing has remained the same: Madina loves Shamira with her whole heart.
Madina is quick to tell anyone that Shamira has changed her life. She shared with us,
"Shamira has made me see things I had never seen in life before. She is always happy and joyful and she is loved by her siblings and friends in our community. She especially loves music and going to school. I hope someday she will be able to make an impact in her community. I believe she will find a job like I have. Shamira is the last-born in our family, and the last-born is always the most loved!"
Shamira has also developed significantly through our therapy services and education at Ekisa Academy. When she first started school, she wasn't able to walk or speak. She can now say basic words in English like "good morning!" and "come!" and she is learning how to read and count. We had the joy of seeing her take her first independent steps, and today you can usually find her outside at our Residential Care home helping her mom with laundry in the afternoons after school.
We are so grateful we are able to walk alongside the families in our Community Care Program to help them navigate the unique challenges of raising a child living with special needs. It is an honor to see moms fighting for the opportunity for their child to thrive, and to see them love their child unconditionally despite the cultural stigma surrounding disability. Without your support, we would not have been able to intervene in Madina and Shamira's lives.