Today I was in Kikandwa once again. Several years ago we met this precious little boy named Beckham. A busy rural road is all that separates his little home from KIkandwa Health Center. He and his mother often attend the events we have been part of over the years.
It was a big day for me today. Beckham finally met one of the people I most respect and admire in Uganda, Francis Kamuhanda. Let me first tell you a bit about Francis. He is not a high level government official or powerful wealthy entrepreneur but I think he is one of the most amazing people I know in this beautiful land. He is the headmaster of a primary school called Sure Prospects. He has a unique sustainable model of engaging and integrating children with special needs with those without. When I asked him this morning how many were at his primary school this term the answer was 530. Of that number, 180 have special needs such as blind, deaf, missing limbs, Down Syndrome, Autism and more. Here is what is so special about this school. Often in Uganda, there is stigma attached to those with special needs, indeed even at times, it is a death sentence. They are often hid away or put in institutions. At his school you do not find that at all. All the teachers and children learn sign language, they assist each other, laugh together, play together. It is beautiful to see. So I was thrilled to ride with Francis this morning to Kikandwa to meet Beckham.
This beautiful boy is the ninth in his family and his mother is struggling to raise him alone after his father left them. Beckham has a contagious smile and captivating giggle but has significant special needs. When I asked Francis to travel with me, he obliged and brought a teacher with him. They spent some time with Beckham, evaluating him, playing with him. The tender way Francis interacted with Beckham brought tears to my eyes. You see, I expected that of my friend, Francis, and he did not let me down. Francis says the first thing he needs is an eye exam and perhaps glasses from Mengo Hospital. Then a visit to an orthopedic specialist near Entebbe will be in order. Beckham’s mother will be taught to help him to walk and complete other small tasks. My hope and dream and prayer is that one day very soon he will be ready for just the right school, hopefully Sure Prospects.