Saturday December 8 2012

Nodding children sue parents for neglect

Amito feeds her brother Okema at Atanga Nodding Disease Treatment Centre on Wednesday.

Amito feeds her brother Okema at Atanga Nodding Disease Treatment Centre on Wednesday. PHOTO BY SAM LAWINO 

By Sam Lawino

Two children suffering from the nodding disease syndrome have dragged their parents to court for neglect.

Janet Amito, 12, and Isaac Okema, 10, children of Joel Kilama and Betty Amony of Angagura Village in Aruu County, Pader District, said they were abandoned by their parents at Atanga treatment centre early this year. “When my brother developed symptoms of nodding, my mother refused to care for us fearing her yet-to-be born baby would catch the disease,” Amito said.

“She took us to Atanga hospital after consuming away our food supplements. She then left us lonely. I cannot reconcile with her since she is not ready to reform,” Amito said.

Pader Magistrate’s Court on Thursday ruled in favour of the children and sentenced their parents to community service. The two are serving the sentence by slashing the compound of Angagura Health Centre II.

The children said they have spent nearly a year at the treatment centre without help from their mother.

However, Arach insisted that her children mistook her keeping away for two months while nursing wounds she reportedly obtained in the cassava garden for neglect. She maintains that her children should continue to stay at the treatment centre until they are cured of nodding syndrome.

“It is a lie. They are in the ward because of my efforts. It was difficult to get food in the hospital and I went home to get cassava,” said Arach. “In the process, my leg got injured and swollen that I could not walk for two months. So they mistook me for being negligent.”

As she defended herself from the accusations, women at the hospital rebuked her for neglecting her children. Meanwhile, her daughter said Arach was pretending to love them.

“I made sure they were arrested. I hate my mother because she does not want us anymore, let her go away,” said Amito, a caretaker of her sicklier brother.