Juliet’s big smile and bright eyes show no trace of the struggles she has already faced in her young life.
She warms up to strangers quickly and has many friends. Her quick laughter might leave you surprised to hear the story of the challenges she has struggled to overcome.
Born with unique challenges
When she was born, her mother Agnes didn’t notice anything unusual about her. It wasn’t until Juliet was four months old that Agnes realized her daughter was facing unique and intense struggles.
“I realized, as she was trying to learn how to sit, that she couldn’t. Whenever I tried to help her sit, her head would fall forward. I realized there was a problem, but I had no money, so I couldn’t see a doctor,” says Agnes.
As she turned one, Juliet still couldn’t sit or crawl. Eventually, she began crawling when she was three years old. When other children were on their feet and running to explore, Juliet was trying to walk, but it was very difficult for her.
Deeply concerned now, Agnes got some money and took Juliet to the hospital, where she was given special shoes. They helped a little, but Agnes lacked money for multiple hospital visits and couldn’t go to any follow-up appointments. She could only encourage her daughter to keep trying and support her as best she could through the disability.
“Juliet had to struggle and learn how to walk by herself. She began limping, and little by little, she struggled to walk. It was painful for me to see her struggling,” says Agnes.
An exciting new development
When Juliet was registered with the Compassion program at her local church, she received a medical assessment. The health specialist referred her to a hospital specializing in the treatment of people living with disabilities.
There, Juliet received a walker to aid in her movement. Her confidence and independence grew as she began to move more freely. The hope for future hospital visits brought joy and hope to the family. For the first time, they had support to get the medical attention that Juliet needed for her disability.
Along with medical support, Juliet received support for her education. Even though she was late in starting school, Juliet is a brilliant student. She easily grasps concepts and is performing well even when the physical aspects of learning are still difficult.
“Juliet is slow in writing. She writes while resting her hand because it gets tired and pains her. The teachers at school give her extra time to complete her work. She is, however, a brilliant girl,” Agnes says, beaming.
Known, loved and accepted
Agnes’ family has learned to be resilient even when other kids bully or mock Juliet for her disability. “At school, children used to stare at me and laugh when I was walking,” says Juliet.
But she is encouraged that the church cares for her and her family. “They told me they love me. I feel happy there. I know they like me because they don’t laugh at me,” she says.
Not limited by circumstances
As Uganda is facing daunting levels of inflation and experiencing the global food crisis, the Compassion centre continues to stand by Agnes and Juliet and supplement their $70 monthly income.
“All prices have shot up. These days, I only buy if I can. It is quite hard. I used to stock food, but now I buy small, measured portions. Sometimes, we drink tea and go to sleep without eating anything. I feel so bad telling Juliet to go to sleep with no food because she has school the next day, and food is not provided at school either,” says Agnes.
The Compassion centre provides food packages to support families in Uganda, and for Agnes and Juliet, it’s another encouragement that they’re not limited by circumstance.
That’s a message that the staff and tutors at the Compassion centre encourage Juliet with every day as they help her to learn, laugh and grow with the other children in the program. She will have the same opportunity as the others to be released from poverty in Jesus’ name.
“Juliet is not limited by her disability; she plays with friends freely,” says Peter, Juliet’s Compassion centre director. “She is an amazing, loving and intelligent girl.”
What’s more powerful than practical hope in the face of hardship? For Juliet and her mother, Agnes, their local church brought not only encouragement but also much-needed help.
This attentive and loving action has given Juliet the tools to break free from poverty, even in the face of overwhelming personal challenges.
This is why Compassion partners with the local church. They are present for children and their families in a way that ensures they are known, loved and protected. Sponsoring a child is partnering with the local church to make an impact that is personal and effective.
What can release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name?
Your compassion can.
Photos by Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa. Words by Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa with Rebekah Malbrecht.