Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Please, return these children to their families

In the last two weeks, I have had to write these two articles in the paper;

9-year-old girl goes missing
Nine-year-old Nicole Lingomo, a daughter to Ramathan Lingomo, a resident of Kevina Village, Nsambya, Kampala, went missing on Friday May, 2009. According to her father, a Congolese refugee, she had gone to fetch water at a nearby tank when she disappeared at 9am. She was dressed in a green skirt, black blouse and wearing sandals. The Primary Two pupil at Nakivubo Primary School had plaited hair.
The matter has been reported at Old Kampala Police Station, but her worried parents appeal to anyone who can help them trace her to call 0753-063532.

Help trace this girl
Thirteen-year-old Melon Natukunda, an orphan from Agape Children’s Village, a charitable orphanage, in Kaggala, Bukerere, Mukono District went missing on June 1, 2009. The Primary 4 pupil, who speaks Luganda and Runyankole, disappeared while on her way to Agape Nursery and Primary School. She was wearing a blue T-shirt with the inscription “God is Able” and blue jeans trousers.
The case has been reported to Seeta Police Post but the management of Agape Christian Village appeals to whoever comes across her to contact them on phones lines; 0782-767843, 0772-948550 or 0782-337817.

So, who is taking our children?
On Friday 29th June, I was at my desk trying to make sure we beat the early edition deadline. As I went about editing the lead story, a lady from our advertising section walked to my desk, behind her was a graying old man, visibly worried. She told me the old man had something to tell me; paying half-attention, I asked him what the problem was.

In Swahili, he began, with a sob: “It is my daughter,” jolting me into full attention.
“Nataka mutoto wangu. Mbona mutu anaiba kasichana kangu. Nataka mutoto wangu (I want my girl. Why would anyone steal my girl? I need her back”).

The old man is Ramathan Lingomo quoted in the first story. In tears, he told me how his last born in a family of five had gone to a nearby tank to fetch water. Then suddenly Nicole was nowhere. Not even the peers who play with her could tell how and where she had gone. The pain on the old man’s face was discernible. It was obvious this little girl, born in exile, was his pet. Her play tool; the one who afforded him a smile as he drowned in the pangs of life in a strange land; as he waited for his share of rations from the refugee agency. The gap this little girl’s disappearance had caused in the family’s life was as glaring as a vacant plot in a slum.

Today, a week after, I called Mzee Ramathan. Nicole is still lost but today he received a call from an NGO that helps in these cases. He was preparing to go and meet them---hoping it is a move that will help his little sweet girl get re-united with the family. It is living in stretched hope, but still it is hope.

So, yesterday, Isaiah, our advertising manager came to my desk and told me: “Here is another case of a missing child. They saw the story you did on the first girl and they also want help.”
That is the case of Melon (picture above), lost from an orphanage. I have not talked to the caretakers. But still I feel the pain. I actually fear to talk to people close to these children because their tears send me to the brink of wailing too.

But, who is this taking our children? Who took little Nicole and Melon? Who is holding these little girls, probable female shakers of tomorrow’s Uganda? Who can’t let these girls have the peace and laughter of their family and friends?

I have heard of tales of child sacrifice blah blah. I just don’t want to imagine these little girls have been slayed. As was inscribed on Melon’s T-shirt, “God is Able”. If anything, God should be able to restore these girls to where they belong.
Watch your kids folks---don’t let them stray. We live in a cruel world.

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