By Srs Euphrasia Masika &Mary Lilly Driciru
Judith (not real name), one of the beneficiaries of Catholic Care for Children Uganda, (CCCU) institution was totally disowned by her grandparents and relatives in a meeting with care givers in October, 2021. The meeting took another twist when the immediate relatives, a grandparent stated; “if you cannot keep Judith in the babies’ home, you can sell her off to whoever is in need of a child, and don’t even bring us the money after the sale.”
It all issued from one of the Babies Homes in Eastern Uganda under CCCU, early this year, when caregivers (sisters) started pursuing the transition process, from Child Care Institutions to family and or family like institution where; child development would meet ideal conditions. Judith was born to a mentally ill mother where, a Catholic Sister rescued and took her to the nearest babies’ home for health care.
As a matter of policy, after Judith turned three years, with indicators that she was out of the danger of illnesses that tortured her during stages that are more delicate. The Administrator and Social Worker embarked on the process of re-unifying Judith with her kinsmen. They traced the family, sensitized them on the need for re-unifying Judith with their family but the grandparents hardened their hearts and refused the move of having Judith back to them.
The episode has left the Sisters in the care center puzzled and stuck with the vulnerable child because of being rejected and unwilling to take on a responsibility. The initial case records indicate that there is no paternal relative of Judith; but her mother (mentally ill) has a maternal uncle who is a grandparent of Judith.
Sisters used to make frequent visits to the grandfather of Judith, but after making such a harsh and jaw-dropping statement, the can never go back to that family. “This is a clear sign that this family has disowned Judith and are not ready to take any responsibility whatsoever,” one administrator from the Child Care Institution remarked. After tabling the matter in a conference, team members resolved that the matter be handled by the district Probation Officer to refer Judith to another home where she can live with peers, cared for and groomed for an independent lifestyle.
Witnesses dismayed by the episode gave various expressions: “I imagine Judith growing up, educated, getting a good-paying job, getting settled in marriage and unfortunately landing on such a disheartening story of being disowned by her kinsmen how would she burst out in rage and anger?” “May God prepare her to take up the challenge and forgive these heartless relatives?” “Will she even introduce them to her fiancé when the time comes? Will she give them financial and or any other support in their old age?
This calls for an all-round formation for Judith. There is ardent need to cultivate moral and Christian virtues of deep faith and great love for the enemy as we read in Mt. 5:44: “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”