There are times when changing someone’s life for the better isn’t as complicated as you might think. Our work in northern Uganda has shown us the power of good old fashioned radio.
Our local partner, PCCO, broadcasts radio shows reaching the most isolated rural Ugandan villages – places where poverty and a lack of good schools means that people are unaware of knowledge we take for granted.
PCCO use their shows to communicate vital information about health. One day, a sixteen-year-old called Sally heard one of their broadcasts, and she suddenly realised that the seizures she had been having sounded like epilepsy. Up until that point, she had endured frequent seizures – and the terrified reactions of those who witnessed them. People believed whatever was afflicting Sally might be contagious, so they ran away and avoided her. She felt friendless, and stopped going to school or trying to help out with her family’s agricultural chores.
After she had listened to the show, she followed the advice given, and went to the health clinic in Patongo. There, she was diagnosed with epilepsy by the psychiatric nurse, and prescribed medicine. She also began seeing Margaret, one of our PCCO counsellors. She followed Margaret’s advice to take the medicine consistently, and soon the seizures stopped. She was once more able to help around the house and in the garden.
Sally has bravely decided to be open with the people in her community, hoping to dispel the superstition surrounding epilepsy. She sees it as her responsibility to prove to people that she is not contagious or cursed, and that modern drugs can make an enormous difference. She has also started attending a tailoring course at the Patongo Youth Centre/Center.
As is often the case, local medical help was available, but like many people, Sally didn’t know where to begin to access it. One of the most important functions PCCO’s team can do is make people aware of what support is at hand, if only they can find it. In common with so many people in remote rural areas, Sally did not know the reason why she had been having seizures until she heard the radio show. Now, she is helping others come to terms with the condition, and feeling a new sense of power over her circumstances.
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