MBUYU MONDAY - WHO ARE WE - Rob's Story
The most immediate memory of my mother was the last time I saw her.
Its vivid and is still with me every day.
I was seven and so full of life without a care in the world because I had the best mum in the world. My mum was pregnant with her sixth baby.
We would play happy games like naming and trying to guess whether it was a boy or girl.
At the time, well up to this date in my village, ultrasound news, at best, is a luxury.
We were planting peanuts/ground nuts that afternoon when we had to rush into the house to take shade from the coming down pour(rain).
During the anxious wait for the heavens to close, so we could go complete the job, my mum went into labour.
Everything else was forgotten as the excitement of our new baby overtook us.
We had no idea our lives were about to change.
Dad wasn’t at home.
So being the fastest runner, I was sent to call our uncle and wife who lived just next door to take her to the health centre. The only mode of transport was the bicycle.
She sat on the carrier and everyone else pushed and she walked whenever they couldn’t push ( due to the terrain). Dad came home, thank GOD, just shortly after they had left.
At the time, there were no telephone networks in the village.
In fact, I didn’t know anything like that existed. The only options were to wait or fetch the person on foot if you knew their where abouts. He got ready and immediately followed his sweet heart.
She had been lucky with the five of us; she had us before she got to hospital, at home or on the way there. I think I was born on the way. This time, she had to go all the way. Something was really wrong. She needed surgery.
They eventually got to the local medical clinic. The baby was presented hand first and the health workers tried hard to push the hand back and rotate the baby to allow normal delivery but in vain and because they had no surgical services there, they had to be referred.
My parents were put between a rock and a hard place as finding appropriate transport coupled with very bad roads and considering it had just heavily poured didn’t help matters.
They got to their referred hospital late in the night/early hours of the next day and for some reason, they could not operate until in the following day.
By that time, the baby was dead, my mothers womb had ruptured and she had bled into shock and her abdomen was contaminated.
My dad returned later that day with the baby who we unceremoniously buried that evening.
I still remember how he looked. Exhausted, scared and broken but he had to return to hospital and care for mum who was in critical condition.
The first people she asked for when she woke up were her children who couldn’t be there.
We were told that she tried hard to live for us.
I was told her only request and prayer was the care of her children.
But sadly she had just lost too much blood and she didn’t make it.
She passed away a few days after going into labour.
Being a doctor now, I can understand the horror my mum went through because I see countless women who needlessly go through the same. The pain, horror and fear she must have been experiencing.....Its injustice.
Before recovering from the shock of my mum’s passing, my dad sadly passed away two months later from unclear circumstances. He woke up with a sore throat one morning, went to the medical clinic and came home to sleep, he never woke up again.
Left as orphans and not wanted by most of our relatives, we went through many trials as we went between family members, in situations that weren’t good and didn’t work out. Eventually our grandmother who was the poorest of them all took us in for as long as she could.
The the following year, I was privileged to join the salvation army orphanage where I grew up and had my education. Due to it only being a boys home at the time and having limited space, my siblings were split up between family.
My siblings and myself were the perfect candidates for the streets.
But GOD heard my mother’s prayers and he has and still takes care of us using people and families from all over the world. None of us ever ended up on the streets.
We struggled, went hungry several times, lacked clothes and many necessities but GOD never left us. Many of the children in our position are not lucky though.
I was blessed to have sponsors who helped me to gain an education, and I worked hard and eventually got a full government scholarship to the course of my choice. I chose to do medicine at Makerere University.
Deeply passionate about helping to prevent what my mother ( and father went through. )
In Uganda, over 600/100000 women out of the 42% who deliver in health centres die from child bearing related causes. For those who survive, 6/10 will have life debilitating complications including losing their babies.
These women are usually socially withdrawn/segregated and abandoned by their husbands for other wives. Be that women don’t inherit property and thus can’t return to their parents’ home, most of them will end up on the street with their children. They can’t afford surgery.
Most of the babies who survive are dead before they are two from malnutrition and preventable and treatable diseases.
Being a doctor, having seen the extremes of what these women and families go through, it breaks my heart to imagine what my mum endured. THIS IS INJUSTICE.
Aside from finding my own relationship with God, meeting my wife was the greatest moment of my life.
When I met her life felt like it really began.
Having lived on my own and never really having a close family or network, that all changed in a moment when I laid eyes on her. I was no longer on my own.
Thankfully 3 years after I first saw her and fell in love with her, she returned to Uganda from Australia and admitted to me that she felt the same way.
A whirlwind romance happened and we were married and living in Uganda just 6 months later.
There's so much I could share about our love and life together, even about our two miracle sons, and they really are miracles, we are even more passionate about good health care, especially maternal care and neonatal care, after what Leah and our boys went through - they are all here today thanks to amazing medical care in Australia.
I love being a dad and am so thankful for our boys and our life together.
God knew what he was doing when He matched me and Leah – Leah also had a passion for orphans and good health care.
She had a deep love and calling to help the Ugandan – so for us we knew that our future would involved laying down our own lives to help others.
And that’s what starting our NGO The Mbuyu Foundation has been….. we are passionate about seeing every Ugandan experience the freedom and justice that every human deserves.
We dream that one day our work will no longer be necessary – but until then we will fight and work towards zero maternal and infant deaths, eradicating poverty, seeing no children living on the street, and every child receiving a quality education and being able to read and write and for every parent to be able to have the ability to afford to care for their own children.
Big dreams….. but together with our amazing Mbuyu team members……. We will do this…… I look back at my past and I know ….I was being prepared and equipped for the life we are now living…. Using my pain to help others and to prevent others from going through the same thing… that’s my goal!
Beauty for ashes….