14 Sept. 2014
Baby Nerima’s Journey
Baby Nerima of Uganda was born on February 21, 2013. She was like any other healthy, happy baby at first, but approximately six months down the road, Nerima developed a persistent dry cough.
Her parents took her to a referral hospital on September 2, 2013, where various tests, including TB, HIV, and cancer, showed up negative. However, three days later, they were referred to a heart institute — and that night, they found out that their young one had a moderately-sized hole in her heart.
A friend soon told her parents about the Indian Association of Uganda, an organization that sponsors heart surgeries in India for Ugandan children. Nerima’s father filed forms and the heart echo report, and was overjoyed when, one week later, Nerima reached number two on the patient list for an operation. Although the $2,000 upkeep fee was steep for the family, a local parliament member chipped in. A week before travel, however, bad news struck: without clear explanation, Nerima was removed from the list.
“We really cried at this office; we went and decided to leave with them the passports and money, thinking that maybe they can change their minds and call us in the remaining days, but [it was all] in vain,” Nerima’s father said.
He and his wife would then walk to populated spots and “cry for help to save Nerima.” Unfortunately, rotary clubs and other organizations did not offer much help.
“We would…get home late in the night because the corporate class of people we aimed at would come late in happening places,” he said.
But just when Nerima’s situation was looking bleak, hope surged back once again. Nerima’s father heard about Mending Kids through a friend whose son had received a surgery through our organization. On September 16, he wrote to Cristina Farrut, Mending Kids’ Director of Social Services — and within two days, she responded, asking him to fill out an application as soon as possible. At first, Nerima’s father felt doubtful due to the previous incident, especially when Mending Kids offered to cover both Nerima’s and his wife’s expenses as they stayed in the Indian hospital.
“This sounded strange in our ears,” he said, “but my dear, Mending Kids stood with us in the most trying moment.”
After Nerima was placed on the list, her parents managed to obtain clearance for their baby girl to travel, then set off for the operation in Bangalore, India. Two days after arriving, Nerima’s father received a call from the doctor, who said that Nerima had a 25% chance of living through the operation. The reality was harrowing, but Nerima’s father knew that “there was no other option available” and encouraged his wife to stay strong.
During the operation, Nerima’s parents fasted, consuming warm water only. For the next two weeks, the girl would stay in a hospital bed, tubes weaving in and out of her body. Despite her appearance, though, Nerima’s parents were ecstatic to hear that their baby was recovering steadily. Within three days of hearing the good news, they headed back home.
The community warmly welcomed Nerima and her family, the tears flowing freely.
“Everyone was happy, thanks to Mending Kids,” Nerima’s father said. “At home, Nerima plays endlessly; at times, we leave her playing with toys even past midnight…I think because she missed it before.”