There are countless women begging in the streets of Entebbe, many of them mentally ill. Sadly, these women are usually overlooked, considered just part of life in a country with rampant unemployment, and extreme poverty and inequality for women. But when a homeless woman has a baby, she may draw more attention.
Such was the case with baby Peter’s mother. In March 2018, our aunties saw the mother of one of our children, Dave, in the streets with a new baby in her arms. They returned to Malayaka House to tell Robert what they had seen. They decided to tell the local police about the situation, reminding them that the mom was mentally ill and that we already had the baby’s brother in our custody. Here is a link to Dave’s story. Dave
The police felt it was in the best interest of the small baby to intervene and give him to our aunties. When baby Peter got to Malayaka House, we did what we always do when a new baby arrives: bought milk and diapers, took him to the doctor for a check-up, and ordered an HIV test. At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly. He was a healthy-looking, chubby baby. But the HIV test came back positive. Everyone was so sad, thinking that this adorable baby’s future was already made difficult through no fault of his own. Of course, it wasn’t the fault of his mother, either. Sadly, she was almost certainly raped in order to conceive both Dave and Peter.
But soon we would have good news! According to the doctors, when a baby is so young, it is not uncommon for a false positive result. So, we did a few more tests…and it turns out that Peter is HIV negative!!
We were so encouraged by this good news! We also decided it was our responsibility to care for the mother. We set her up at the Butabika Hospital, a mental hospital in Uganda. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and medicated to control her symptoms. The mother’s name is Jennifer, and after a few months at Butabika, our auntie Winnie went looking for Jennifer’s family in a remote area of western Uganda. She found them and reunited Jennifer with her family. Since then, she is living in her village, taking her schizophrenia and HIV medication, and having frequent phone conversations with auntie Winnie.
We are sad that Jennifer has to be separated from her children, but happy that she is now safe and can remain in contact with her kids as they grow.
Peter is a healthy, happy baby boy. He smiles all the time, and his brothers and sisters absolutely adore him!
We love you, baby Peter!