Monday, October 15, 2007
Update :: Joyce
My sweet and spunky girl is growing and I am so, so, so very happy! Many of you have been asking about Joyce: her health, her family, her future. It has been difficult to answer many of those questions because the answers were sometimes elusive, and a good (responsible) plan challenging to put into place from over here. Oh, Uganda. Oh, Joyce.
But now...now we have a plan. Of sorts, at least. And Joyce is not in limbo. And I have hope.
Joyce's TB is gone, and her HIV is under control. She is in school! All these things began before I left, but they remain stable. Honestly, this is somewhat miraculous and due to the hard work and dedication of many amazing people. Joyce's burns wounds are being actively treated and she goes to Gulu Independent Hospital regularly for specialized care.
Joyce's Aunt Mary and her stepmother, Carla share the role of "mother" and care for Joyce with all they have, trading time (a few weeks at a time) to each return to their small gardens and homes in a different district. She is surrounded by a slew of cousins at all times, including Emma, Mary's 15 year old daughter, who shared hours and hours and hours with me at the hospital drawing, playing games with Joyce, and teaching me about her culture, language and family. Joyce is very loved.
And school! Preschool has never been so great, and her teachers report that she is doing very well and likes it, too. But best of all, Joyce has a new friend, Grace.
Ocwee Grace is a mentor/guide/friend to Joyce and her family. She is an accomplished and loving Acholi woman who works with Invisible Children, who is partnering to help support Joyce. Since Invisible Children already has a mentoring system for the students in their secondary school program, this worked well. Most importantly, though, Joyce adores Grace.
Grace oversees Joyce's educational, nutritional and medical needs, works with the family to ensure that they understand all aspects of her specialized care, and assists where/when necessary. Right now she also oversees helping with the family's basic food needs. Without immediate proper nutrition Joyce wouldn't get better.
However (and this gets me excited!), we're working on the possibility of supporting Joyce's family in setting up an income generating activity/small business venture so their only sustained assistance will be Joyce's hospital bills and schooling. Jimmie and I are going to be doing everything we can to help make this a reality.
In the meantime, we hear from Grace (through the ever patient and fabulous Tiffany) that Joyce is "growing very fat", going to school, and always making her laugh.
Music to my ears.
I want to thank you all so much for asking about Joyce, remembering, caring... I miss her somethin' awful (hope to get back to see her very, very soon), but nothing is better than knowing that she now goes to sleep at night with a full belly, next to a loving family, with medical needs met, and a day of school awaiting. Who knows what the future may hold....but it looks bright to me!
(Thanks to Tiffany and Grace for the updated photos)