Saturday December 8 2012

Agony of parenting an obese child

Boss is breast fed by his mother at Muliinga Village in Kibaale District recently.  The baby weighs 50 kilogrammes. Right Boss plays after being breastfed.

Boss is breast fed by his mother at Muliinga Village in Kibaale District recently. The baby weighs 50 kilogrammes. Right Boss plays after being breastfed. PHOTOs BY DAVID AYEBALE 

By David Ayebale

A journey on a quiet Friday afternoon from Hoima to Kisiita Sub-county in Kibaale District can be heartwrenching.

With the dusty road, the 33-kilometre journey takes up to one-hour on a hired motorcycle, commonly known as a boda boda.It is here that an 11-month old baby (names withheld), who weighs 50 kilogrammes, lives. His story has been the talk of this small and quiet village.

Commonly known as “Boss” because of the unusual weight for a baby of his age, his parents have, however, been going through an agonising experience.

They have been soliciting for all forms of financial help, including one at the nearby Mulinga-Kamira Mpuuta Church of Uganda.

It is here that the laity made a collection of Shs10,000 to help Boss’ parents buy food for their son whose favourite dish is posho, rice and matooke.

Back at home, Boss’ mother sits him on a mat and it is clear to see why this toddler has been the attention of the village.
He is dressed in what could fit a medium-size man, including an oversized T-shirt.

No sooner had his mother finished undressing him than he started crying. He was hungry since he had last eaten in the morning when they were going to church for help and prayers. Her husband was also reportedly away looking for money for the child.

Later, the baby’s mother brought a three-cup-jug full of porridge for him. Dip by dip, she poured the porridge into the cup and full to the brim, the baby ate it within no minute. After the jug is over, Boss starts playing with sandals near him as his mother sits puzzled thinking of what she can do next for her son.

Onlookers stare in amazement as some villagers call his name. Occasionally, he turns around at the mention of his name to see who is calling him.
Boss can neither crawl nor move his body off the ground but only turns round his head looking for his mother.

His bones can support the flabby flesh when he sits down and also support him once the mother helps him lean against her chair.

Thirty minutes later, Boss starts crying again wanting to be breastfed. Breast milk is not enough for him and the mother feels pain whenever he is suckling and carrying him. “This milk is insufficient for him and I cannot rely on it. I feel pain all over the body whenever I carry him,” says his mother as tears roll down her cheeks.

In her agony, several village folks gather into a multitude to have a glimpse at the village baby who seems to be a tourist attraction. Boss was born normally at home. His mother did not know how much he weighed since she gave birth from the village. But at one month he weighed 16 kilogrammes, according to the mother, after she had taken him to Nalweyo Health Centre III in Kibaale District to be immunised against polio.

However, she started feeling the baby’s abnormal weight when it was one-and-a-half months old and by the time it clocked two months it was too big for its age. She took him back to the health centre again to consult what had become of her baby, only for her to find out that Boss was now 50 kilogrammes.

The health workers advised her to go to Kakindo Health Centre IV where they also referred him to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital. “I was surprised to see my child young as he was weighing much more than me since I weigh 48 kilogrammes.”

“The health workers told me that they did not have any help to offer me apart from referring me to Kakindo Health Centre IV,” his mother narrates. But Boss’ parents say they are financially constrained and cannot afford the Shs10,000 for transport to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital for pediatric consultation.

The area chairperson has mobilised residents who have promised to contribute some food for the baby. But in the meantime, Boss’ parents need to all the support they can get to keep feeding their son.