Fedelsi and her grandson Kisuule Bonnie, live in Lyabuguma village, near Masaka. Bonnie is like any other nine year old, cheeky and full of a curiosity to explore. He is constantly getting into trouble, the kind that all children get in to at that age. However, unlike most other young children he has also, heartbreakingly, spent vast amounts of this childhood tied to a tree. And the reason is for his own safety.
Bonnie is a low functioning autistic with the tendency to wander off when left alone – a guardian’s worst nightmare! Feldelsi has a huge amount of love for Bonnie but was alone and therefore had no option than to leave him tethered to a tree near their house whilst she was working. Often worried and tired, she had no support in a society that often deems disabled children as burdens and troublemakers. There is a huge lack of knowledge and understanding, meaning no training and help to those who care for those living with a disability, resulting in situations like Bonnie’s.
In the past few months all this has changed and you can see it in their smiles. This has come about after marathon funding has enabled Bonnie and Fedelsi to receive help from ‘Action for Integrated Community Development’. AICOD are a very small grass-roots project that help people like Bonnie live richer, happier lives. They receive no formal funding outside of what people like you have given via the marathon.
Fedelsi now has a support network, but it is the physical change to their house which has really impacted Bonnie’s life. In May a team of Uganda Marathon runners spent their ‘Make a Difference Day’ building a fence around Fedelsi’s property, installing swings and a safe play area for Bonnie to explore. Since that day Bonnie hasn’t once been tied to the tree, instead he plays safely, having space to explore and develop. The only challenge that they are currently having is getting him off the swing for bedtime!
Last week, Andy Bownds went to visit Fedelsi to see how they were getting on since the #UGM2016 marathon. Here is what she had to say:
I deeply and wholeheartedly thank the Uganda Marathon for the great work they’ve done for me.
Bonnie was always getting lost, but now it doesn’t happen anymore. The fence and gate was constructed, and play materials put in place so he now can stay home and play! He keeps swinging (favourite).
Once again thank you so much for that special work. I was so worried because he would get lost always.”