Uganda: Girl With Swollen Cheek Gets Help After Monitor Story

A 10-year-old girl, who was suffering with a big swelling on her right cheek, has received financial and medical assistance following a Daily Monitor story.

Good Samaritans have provided clothing, bedding and school fees to Priscilla Akongo, 10, who says she was abandoned by her parents after she developed the strange swelling. She is also undergoing an operation at Lacor hospital to remove the swelling.

On July 3, 2020, Daily Monitor published a story depicting the worrying condition of Akongo, who lived in Ayago Parish, East Division, Lira City. Her right cheek started swelling around 2013, when Akongo had just turned two years.

Around the same period, she was taken to Orum Health Centre IV in Otuke District where she underwent an operation to remove the swollen part. Unfortunately, the operation was unsuccessful as the swelling returned and this time, much bigger.

Akongo, a Primary Three pupil at Burlobo Primary School in Adekowok Sub-county, Lira District, said her mother then took her to her grandmother, Ms Lucy Okello, in Ayago Village.

The girl said her mother left with her other four-year-old sister and she has never heard from them since. "My parents were living at Ayago in Railways Division by then but when the swelling started, my mother took me to grandma who was living nearby and then she disappeared, to date," Akongo recalls.

Akongo's father is said to be a driver but she does not know where he lives.

Mr Patrick Olwit Ogwang, the Lira District inspector of schools, on Monday told Daily Monitor that he first met the girl in 2019 during his routine school inspection duty for third term.

"I even made a visit to where she lives at the beginning of Term One in 2020 and had an interface with her grandparents. I included her situation in my inspection report [2019] to other stakeholders, indicating that she needed immediate help," Mr Olwit said.

Mr Olwit appealed to well-wishers to come to the child's rescue.

Ms Sekondina Akidi, the head teacher of Burlobo Primary School, said the girl loves her studies and does not miss school. "I normally pick her up in her free time and we chat while I encourage her to continue with studies," she said.

Just days after the story, a concerned citizen contacted Daily Monitor and sent Shs200,000 to support Akongo. This money was sent to the girl through our reporter, purposely for food and clothing.

Also, well-wishers from an international charity organisation through the Lira District inspector of schools, Mr Olwit, took Akongo to Lacor hospital in Gulu City where she is currently undergoing operation in a phased manner.

According to the Lira District inspector of schools, Akongo returned to the hospital on Monday for another surgery to remove the last bit left.

"Isn't this wonderful?" Mr Olwit said. "I think income generation for her is the next step to go... It is possible to reunite the family as well," he added.

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