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An unyielding love powers refugees in Uganda

by Tyler Graf | Feb 14, 2018


Kneeling on the dirt floor of her home, Rose tucks her spindly legs under her body and talks passionately about her family and the bond of love that brought them to this refugee settlement in northern Uganda.

Rose's smile is radiant, a full-force beam of happiness. When her husband is by her side, her smile widens. He was by her every inch of the journey through the South Sudan bush, helping her as she crawled over the harsh landscape with shoes on her hands and cuts on her knees.

Everyone in Rose's family has a disability -- something that complicates an already complicated life. For Rose, she's been disabled since a young age when she contracted polio, leaving her without the use of her legs. She married a man with dwarfism and gave birth to two children who also have the condition. Life for the couple in South Sudan was hard.

When Rose was young, she remembers people staring at her, treating her differently. Other children did not accept her and she had few friends. She was an outsider, whom even doctors treated coldly. She recalls going to a doctor and being told there was nothing he could do. She was on her own.

But when she met her husband, her world changed. She felt loved. Together, they forged a partnership. When fighting erupted in South Sudan -- when hatred, violence and persecution boiled over, forcing thousands to immediately flee -- the couple turned to love. They relied on each other to remain strong.

Together, they found the strength to travel with their children for days until they reached Uganda, where they were tired and sick. Rose was at a reception center after crossing the border when Medical Teams staff embraced her. 

In midst of the family's struggles, Medical Teams International eased their burden by providing malaria medicine to the children and screening the parents for other diseases. Nurses noticed the family’s disabilities, Rose says, and expressed a desire to make sure they had a good life at the settlement.

Loving care came in the form of medical assistance and home visitations. Because of the family’s limited mobility, nurses went directly to the family. They came to check on the children, to help Rose and her husband, and to provide love. 

Rose in her new wheelchair.

As Rose sat, recalling her story, her smile widened and she looked over at her husband, who was attending to the children as they slept on a mat, snoring loudly. He smiled back. A silent connection was at work – between Rose, her husband, and their children. They were healthy together, and that’s what mattered most. 

After Rose initially told her story to Medical Teams over the summer, even more love came to Rose’s doorstep – this time in the form of a wheelchair. Nurses from Medical Teams International brought the wheelchair to the family’s house, where that big, warm smile again crossed Rose's face. She was thankful that finally she had mobility. No longer would she have to crawl on the ground with shoes on her hands. This simple act of love went a long way in reaffirming Rose's dignity

At refugee settlements throughout the world, there are so many stories that show how love leads to healing. In Uganda, Medical Teams International demonstrates what it means to act, to heal, and to love. On this Valentine's Day, let's remember how love has the power to shape and transform the lives of those around us. Learn more about refugees like this family and consider making a donation today.