As Namatovuâs eyes met the brilliant blue ones of her grandson, fear ripped through her body.
âMy son [Sowedi] called me from the hospital and said his partner had given birth to a son called Shakul, but he was sick and had different colours,â says Namatovu. âI told him it was ok because thatâs how God created him. He said he had no money and the motherâs parents had chased her from home with her baby. I didnât know what to do, so I told him to bring the child and mother to live with me.â
Taking the small bundle of blankets from Sowedi, Namatovu looked from Shakulâs startling eyes to the rip of white that ran like a scar down his face. Unpeeling the blankets further she found patches of white skin across his body, a condition that was completely unfamiliar. âI was astonished. I was scared. I wondered if he was sick, [so] I called a friend and said, âwill this child survive?â She said he would since I was now caring for him,â recalls Namatovu.
Shakul and his mum moved in with Namatovu and she fell instantly in love with her beautiful new grandson. However, as Namatovu bonded, his mum became increasingly distant, refusing to breastfeed or interact with him. A few months later she announced she was returning to her parentsâ home with Shakul. Namatovu was devastated and deeply worried.
âPlease never abandon the boy. If you ever get stranded, return the baby to me. Iâll care for the boy,â Namatovu told her.
Despite her plea, Shakul was abandoned.
Vulnerable and alone
Opening his door, Sowedi found his son naked on his doorstep. As he picked him up, he felt his cold skin and panic ran through this body. Even though it was 3 am he rang Namatovu for help.
Namatovu knew that if Shakul was to survive she needed to care for him, even if she didnât have the financial means to do so.
Even though it seemed impossible with the earnings she received from washing clothes, Namatovu took a step of faith and became Shakulâs carer. Soon after, she was given the opportunity to cook lunch and serve sponsored children at the nearby Compassion project in Kampala. With no one to babysit Shakul, she took him with her. Sitting in the kitchen the visitors and staff couldnât help but notice the little blue-eyed boy and speaking with Namatovu they recognised the family need for extra support. As soon as there was a place for him, Shakul was registered into Compassionâs Child Survival Programme.
Compassion arranged for Shakul to be taken to a medical examination where he was diagnosed with Waardenburg syndrome, a group of genetic conditions that can cause hearing loss and changes in pigmentation of the hair, skin, and eyes.
Shakul doesnât hear well in either ear but Namatovu is confident his hearing is improving.
At the Compassion centre Shakul is deeply loved. As Agnes, one of the project staff explains, âHe is very active, and the children love him a lot. He doesnât talk but he is a good communicator. He interacts very well with others and he loves coming to the centre â he never wants to leave! [His favourite place] is the play corner and he loves sharing.â
Namatovu says the love and care shown to her and Shakul has had a lasting impact on them. Recently, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviourâa result of the kindness shown to her.
âFirst of all, they have shown me love and my child love. They gave me employment to cook [at the project] and I earn some money. They gave us food and soap. Because I didnât have anywhere to get food, I would wake up praying wondering where to get food,â says Namatovu.
No longer abandoned, Shakul is a little boy who is growing in confidence because he is known, loved and protected.