By Samuel Onen
The Irene Gleeson Foundation-IGF is using its charity walk this year to raise at least 40,000 kilograms of assorted food items to support hundreds of families affected by nodding syndrome in the Acholi sub-region.
The charity was established by Irene Gleeson, an Australian who decided to pitch camp in Kitgum at the time when the region was at the peak of the LRA war. After her death on July 21, 2013, the foundation started an Annual Charity Walk every July, to continue the projects she had started in honor of her memory.
For the past two years, however, the Charity Walk did not happen due to restrictions in movement that came with the COVID-19 Pandemic. This year, IGF opted to strengthen there focus and energies on supporting the children who are suffering from nodding disease, according to John Paul Kiffasi, the Executive Director of the Foundation.
Kiffasi said that the foundation responded to a call by Archbishop John Baptist Odama and, after visiting the homes, they established that the families were starving with no food, yet the children are on medication that requires them to feed well.
Scientists say that proper nutrition is very vital in the general improvement of children suffering from nodding syndrome.
However, most families affected by nodding syndrome are impoverished and food insecure, as parents take most of their time caring for their children and are left with limited time to farm or do other income-generating activities.
On 14th September, 2022 the Central Organizing Committee of the IGF 2022 Charity Walk completed the distribution of food items to the 18 remaining families with nodding syndrome cases in Labongo Amida Subcounty as the distribution were halted earlier due to shortage of food stuffs.
The beneficiaries were families who did not pick their food items from the first distribution ground, Okidi Primary School.
Kiffasi revealed that the parents of the children suffering from nodding syndrome have lost hope because many tests have been done on the bodies of their children, but no conclusive results are taken back. The Charity Walk, he said, is aimed at restoring the lost hope in the families and also appealing to the government to open care centres to cater to those whose conditions are severe.
Kiffasi concluded that it is saddening that many have forgotten about nodding disease, adding that the Charity Walk is to ensure that the world is reminded that nodding disease still exists and that as support partners they will ensure that the charity walk is sustained.
The next destination of distribution is Labongo Akwang Subcounty with over 400 households.