Entry Title: "
CONDEMNED - mental illness in Uganda"
Category: Professional, Deeper Perspective
Story: Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army no longer terrorise the inhabitants of northern Uganda. The war may be over but decades of unspeakable violence has left deep scars - a legacy of Ugandans suffering with mental illness.
To most Ugandans mental illness has little to do with the brain and more to do with demons and witchcraft. Traditional beliefs as well as modern imported ones explain the unexplainable. Prayer and exorcism are often sought before conventional medicine. If that doesn’t work, hope is lost, then comes neglect or abandonment.
In a basement under a church I strained my eyes to see men and women chained to their beds, mumbling and groaning – awaiting salvation. A humble home on the shores of Lake Victoria housed 15 children abandoned by families that couldn’t cope with the child that they believed cursed. Outside the capital Kampala an impoverished mother sells her bed to buy food for her paralyzed daughter. Her husband has left her and taken their other 5 children. In northern Uganda a mother ties her psychotic son to a tree and prays that God will help him, she does not believe the drugs available at the hospital only one kilometre away can.
This is the reality of mental illness in Uganda. These are the condemned.