Reviews & Profiles
Akiba, Bless a Child Foundation’s home
Posted Monday, October 7 2013 at 00:00
The home is on Sir Apollo Kagwa Road near Makerere Business institute. A first time visitor may miss it if they are not keen enough to notice the sign with the pink teddy bear announcing that this is Akiba, the home of Bless a Child Foundation (BCF).
“Akiba is a Swahili word for treasure and is the name of this home. If BCF as a foundation opens other homes, they will have different names,” says Walusimbi.
In the midmorning when we arrive, the compound is quiet. Too quiet for a place that hosts children. A woman is busy in the outdoor kitchen, getting lunch ready.
Turns out a number of the children had left for their appointments and reviews at the hospital. The handful remaining is in class upstairs. “We hire a professional teacher so all the children can keep up with their studies,” shares Walusimbi.
The days here run similar to a normal school, classes, and breaks for meals and of course play time in the evening. Walusimbi says it is a deliberate effort to distract the children from focusing on the disease or the pain. “They go to class even in wheelchairs, with their tumours,” he says. But unlike a school, there are many other activities including movie nights and trips to the Zoo. “This home is a place where the children with cancer can just be children, make happy memories,” Walusimbi says.
Everywhere you look you see signs of an attempt at keeping things cheery, brightly coloured walls, with cartoon characters drawn on them. Crisp and neat too, the modest double decker beds are neatly laid out and organised so the rooms do not look too crowded and the floors are impeccable.
But one can still see the strain of trying to do so much with so little. The parlour’s seats for instance have seen better days and the bright green colour cannot disguise the brown of wear and tear.
The home which was opened in January 2010 can comfortably accommodate up to 60 people, 30 adults and the same number of children in its six bedrooms. That is excluding the 10-staff members BCF employs.
But Walusimbi says there was a time the home has played host to up to a hundred. On average though, 10-15 children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at nearby Mulago Hospital and at various stages of recovery live at Akiba. Some are accompanied by their parents, for others the parents visit from time to time.
“We host the children and their guardians too. Many travel from upcountry to get their children treatment at the cancer institute. Cancer takes a long time to treat and since they cannot afford to shuttle back and forth, they need a place to stay, food to eat, counselling, along with support to get treatment for their children. They find that at Akiba free of charge,” he says.