When we go out to Uganda to hold clinics, the people we meet are often so grateful and thank us for the help that we are providing.  I always try to tell the folk I meet that, because we have all been blessed with so much – and have been given the privilege of travelling to Uganda – we are there to share the blessings that we have been given with those we meet.  We have been blessed so that we can bless.

I first met little 6 year old Peace in a CRMI clinic in January 2020.  Her mum said that they were concerned that Peace was weak in her left arm and leg.

As we began to ask questions we found out that this little girl had been fine until the previous November when “something happened – maybe malaria?”.  Peace had felt very ill, become weak in her left arm and leg and had been taken to Mulago Hospital for a blood transfusion.  We don’t think she has been to the hospital since for any follow up clinics.

Peace has sickle cell anaemia which is an inherited condition.  We have seen several children with this as we have been working in Uganda.  The disorder affects the red blood cells which contain a special protein called haemoglobin (Hb for short).  The function of haemoglobin is to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.

People with Sickle Cell Anaemia have Sickle Haemoglobin (HbS) which is different from the normal haemoglobin (HbA).  When sickle haemoglobin gives up its oxygen to the body’s tissues, it sticks together to form long rods inside the red blood cells making these cells rigid and sickle-shaped.  Normal red blood cells can bend and flex easily but these sickle cells are stiff and inflexible.

Sickled red blood cells can’t squeeze through small blood vessels as easily as the almost donut-shaped normal cells.  This can lead to these small blood vessels getting blocked which then stops the oxygen from getting through to where it is needed.  This in turn can lead to severe pain and damage to organs.

Attacks of anaemia and sever pain known as crises are the result of these blocked blood vessels.  Over time sufferers can experience damage to organs such as liver, kidney, lungs, heart and spleen.  Death can be a result.

Another problem is that red blood cells containing sickle haemoglobin do not live as long as the normal 120 days and  this results in a chronic state of anaemia.  In spite of this, a person with sickle cell disorder can attend school, college and work.

People with sickle cell disorder need regular medical attention particularly before and after operations, dental extraction and during pregnancy and they need to have regular monitoring and medication to support them and keep them healthy.  Peace will need this throughout her life ad so we will encourage her mum, Damalie, to make sure that she attends clinics regularly.  If support is needed for travel, we will help.

Little Peace had suffered a stroke or Cerebro Vascular Accident during a crisis in November which had left her with limited movement and weakness of the left arm and leg.  Whilst we were asking her mum questions, Peace stood with her head down and said very little – as if she was ashamed of her weakness.  She is the first born of 3 children and – as a big sister – she will feel that she has responsibilities, which she has been struggling to do.

I asked Peace to hold my hand with her weak one – and to squeeze it as hard as she could.  Peace was able to move her fingers – so we knew that there was still some function there.  When brain damage occurs in the young, there is much more chance of recovery than in an older person, and so we took Peace to meet our physio team.

Pam Marshall is an expert in rehabilitation and Ehud Nir works with disabled children so they were the ideal team to help this little girl.

Pam and Ehud assessed the way that Peace was standing and saw the difficulties that she had with her left leg and arm.  They helped Peace and her mum to see how Peace could do exercises to strengthen her muscles and improve her balance.  When she had been given some help, there was an immediate improvement in the way that she walked and moved.  Pam and Ehud stressed that Peace needed to continue with the exercises to help her to regain her function and strength.  In such a young brain and body, she has a good chance of making a lot of improvements – but she will have to work at it.

Peace and her mum were invited to attend the disability group and to have blood test done at the Barracks hospital so that our doctors could see just how anaemic she is.

They came back on that Friday and we found that her haemoglobin was only 8.6 which is low, so Dr Mike gave her some folic acid tablets, which she should take every day and some medication that will protect her from Malaria.  She revisited our physio team to work through her exercises again.  Mum was encouraged again to take her to clinic every month for more folic acid, malaria protection and to monitor her haemoglobin levels.

We hope and pray that Peace will grow in strength and confidence and rediscover the full use of her left side.  The disability group is available to her for regular encouragement and CRMI are supporting the family now that they have come to our attention.

It will be wonderful to return to Uganda and see how this little girl is growing – and to see her lift up her head and rediscover her smile.

With God’s blessings and her own hard work, Peace has a brighter future where we hope she will be able to grow strong and become able to bless others in her community.


Written By: Pauline Kaye

Date:  July 10, 2020