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How Lacor hospital has saved a 14yo victim of Apaa land conflict 

(Last Updated On: 28 September 2023)

Gulu | Friday, September 22, 2023, will be remembered as a day that brought in a lot of mixed feelings at Lacor hospital surgical ward, especially for Vicky [not real name], the mother of Kaka [not real name], a 14-year-old boy from Apaa.

The hospital has concealed the identity of the boy “because of the sensitivity of the matter”. 

Apaa is a hotly contested area between the Acholi and Madi people of northern Uganda that has resulted in sporadic loss of lives. The specific name of the village where Vicky and Kaka come from is also withheld – Lacor says. 

Vicky has a sense of relief because, after nearly two months of hospital stay, Kaka is finally going back home. His hospital bill has been waived by the administration and the mother, who was under immense stress is beginning to relax. 

But there is also sadness because Kaka has yet to do anything on his own and is still being fed by a tube inserted into the neck. A lot of questions remain unanswered, even for the doctors.

Vicky is a single mother of two who survives by selling food crops in the local market. Her woes began on August 4, 2023, in the afternoon when Kaka and his sister were coming back from school, they passed by their mother’s stall in the market to report an incident that had happened earlier. 

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Some unknown men were chasing them with machetes. Aware of the danger that engulfs this village, Vicky warned them not to be moving alone, and that day she gave them food to go and prepare for the evening.

Vicky had to stay a little longer in the market because she didn’t sell much that day. Upon her return in the night at around 8 p.m., Vicky couldn’t sense the presence of her children. On opening the door, she found Kaka’s sister lying by the doorside. Unhappy with the situation, she called out, asking why the young girl was lying by the door.

Seeing that the girl was not responding to her, she decided to grab her. It was then that she realised that her daughter was lying in a pool of blood. “I started screaming and in no time, people gathered,” Vicky recalls.

Vicky’s daughter had been deeply cut in the head. She didn’t survive. Kaka too was hacked in the head and pierced in the throat. He was left for dead on his mother’s bed. 

What is surprising is that no one in the entire village witnessed the killing or saw anyone come to Vicky’s home. Everyone was in shock and fear. Killing is not a new phenomenon in Apaa due to the land conflict in the area, but what sets this one apart is the stealthy manoeuvres employed.

Kaka was rushed to Lacor Hospital through the night. He stayed in the ICU for 25 days before being transferred to the Surgery II ward. In those days, his sister was laid to rest. No one knows who the killers were or where they came from.

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But from the attack launched on the village the following day, it is believed that the attackers who came from across the neighbouring community are the very people who killed Kaka’s sister. Two men were badly injured and rushed to Lacor as well.

On September 22, 2023, the doctors recommended Kaka for discharge following some improvements but there is one problem – their bill is nearly $200. Vicky couldn’t afford it – said the hospital. 

This bill is already highly subsidised. Nowhere in the country can one stay in the ICU for 25 days and walk away with such a low bill and yet it is still out of grasp for Vicky.

Vicky buried her head in her hands and began to cry. Stunned by this sight, Sister Paula, the In-charge Surgery II ward, informed Anthony Odur from the Finance Department about the situation. After careful examination, Mr. Odur lobbied the administration for a waiver, a request which was instantly granted.

Because of its mission to provide affordable, quality and sustainable healthcare to the needy in witness of the Church’s concern for all, such situations are not uncommon at Lacor Hospital. The administration is well aware and is ever ready to offer waivers or exemptions.

“But that only solved one problem for Vicky. She must now figure out how to feed Kaka. At the hospital, his food is first blended and fed to him via the tube. Kaka is unable to sit, walk or talk. He soils his clothes from time to time and if left unattended to, he might fall down the bed.”

Vicky is fully aware of what awaits her. Her greatest strength is a mother’s love. She’s determined not to lose all her children at the hands of death. 

She won’t go back to the same house her daughter was killed in but she’ll go back to her mother’s house and together, they’ll face the future.

Story & photo credit: Lacor Hospital 

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