On Friday evening a very pregnant woman walked into our office asking for help. She’d traveled eight kilometers (nearly 5 miles) on foot, alone.
She introduced herself as Judith, and at 29 years old this was the 8th child she was expecting. Judith had been chased out of her own home by her husband who had brought his mistress home with him.
We learned that Judith had spent 4 days and nights hiding in the bush before sneaking back to grab a few things from home, dressing and walking to WAGRAU. Judith wanted help pressing charges against her husband.
As we spoke with Judith, it became very obvious that she was in labor. There is no health insurance in Uganda except for the very very elite, and no universal healthcare. So, two weeks ago she and her husband sold their goat to prepare for the delivery, but her husband had recently taken the money and spent it on his mistress, before kicking JUDITH out of her own home! Judith had carried her chicken in hopes that she could find someone along the way who would be willing to buy it for $3-4 (UGX 12,000-15,000) so she could use it at the clinic for the birth of her child. She felt alone. Her mother is dead, and her father remarried a woman who is hostile towards the children from his first marriage, she had no one to call on.
We contacted one of our Ugandan donors to see if they could help, and reached out to a local nurse to accompany Judith to the clinic. Meanwhile we reached out to the local police’s Child and Family Desk as well as the Probation and Welfare desk to try to encourage Judith’s husband to support his wife. Ultimately we filed a case of negligence.
In Ugandan village clinics, you must bring your own supplies and purchase your medical needs ahead of time, such as a IV fluids and cannula in case you need hydration, bed sheets, a basin, swaddling clothes for the baby — we paid for these things with the money from our Ugandan donor, and we cooked the chicken for Judith — at Ugandan hospitals you must also provide your own food. Our director went home and gathered a blanket and some of her own clothes to provide for Judith.
After checking into the clinic, Judith was seen by the doctor who reported that the baby was in distress with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. Judith needed an emergency c-section which cost UGX 600,000 ($159). Thanks to generous donors, there were two precious lives saved. Judith gave birth by cesarean section to a healthy baby boy.
The police we called had come by the home to record a statement. When the police came, Judith’s husband fled out of fear – knowing he was in the wrong, and his mistress ran back to her home in a neighboring town. Even people in remote villages respect the law, they are just not used to marginalized women and girls having the power of the law behind them.
Judith was able to return to her home in peace.
We took time to visit Judith, her baby boy (and 7 other children!) and found them healthy. We brought her rice, sugar and washing soap, and when we saw that she had no blanket, sheets or mosquito net (to fight malaria) we purchased those and brought them to her as well.
WAGRAU will continue to represent Judith and work towards holding her husband accountable and advocating that he support his wife and see if there is any hope of a mutually respectful partnership in the future.
Won’t you join us?
Sometimes it’s as simple as giving people the power to use their own voice.
This is just one of many examples of how WAGARU supports women and girls in crisis.
SUPPORT US so we can help those who come to us in dire need and advocate for the human rights of women and girls.