On the third of June 2014, little Robert was sleeping in the kitchen of his grandmother’s home. She had gone to church to commemorate Martyr’s Day, a public holiday in Uganda. Robert was resting after completing his tasks for the day which included chasing the monkeys away from the family garden. Someone came into the house, grabbed Robert, took him outside and stabbed him in the neck in an attempt to drain his blood for a ritual. Thankfully a neighbour heard his screams and came to his aid. The attacker fled, but Robert was bleeding badly, injured and non-conscious.
The Evil Con
Unfortunately, there are evil, sham witchdoctors in Uganda who exploit vulnerable and naïve people into believing that they can receive prosperity or good health if they sacrifice a child or use parts of their body in a ritual.
KCM Rush Robert to Rescue
When our Partner, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM) heard of Robert’s attack, they immediately mobilised and assisted in his care. Robert was taken to a city hospital where they treated his wound as well as his malaria, pneumonia and anaemia. When the DIAS team visited the next day, Robert was in an unresponsive state and stayed that way for a number of days. It later became apparent that he was unsurprisingly, severely traumatised and unable to walk or use his hands correctly. The knife had damaged nerves in his spinal cord.
After leaving the hospital and moving into the KCM Rehabilitation Home, Robert underwent intensive daily physical therapy and received psychological trauma counselling from the social workers. He soon recovered mentally, becoming a happy and bright young boy, but physically, there was no improvement. The injury to his spinal cord was causing his leg, hips and hand muscles to involuntarily contract.
Doctors and Donors Offer Life-saving Help in Australia and America
Dr Christie, a Neurosurgeon from Newcastle, Australia has been travelling to Uganda every year to train local surgeons and operate on patients that need life-saving operations – all at his own cost. In 2016, Dr John Christie, met Robert and realised that the operations needed to help him were not possible in Uganda. Upon his return to Australia, he found a surgeon, Dr Sandeep Tewari at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle to undertake this operation.
Droplets In A Stream raised over $30,000 through a public fundraising appeal and secured free flights from Uganda to Australia with South African Airways and Virgin Australia. Robert and another young girl were then able to travel to Australia in May 2017. One can only imagine the excitement and possible trepidation young Robert must have experienced while flying to a strange country, undergoing extensive and sometimes painful tests and scans. Then there were the multiple surgeries and lengthy rehabilitation sessions. Happily, not long after surgery, Robert took his first tentative albeit shaky steps.
Particular and heartfelt appreciation must go to his hosts, Dr John Christie and his wife Kathryn, who so generously opened their home to Robert and his carer for many months. We are also deeply grateful to the many others who brought meals, arranged visits and took Robert to physio sessions. To Dr Tewari, Bronwyn McNeil and the many other health workers – thank you so much!
Robert returned to Uganda and continued to receive physiotherapy and ongoing help, but it became clear that he needed more surgery. In March 2020, through assistance from Operation Underground Railroad, he travelled to the USA and underwent further surgery and rehabilitation in Utah. A year later, he returned once more to have all the pins and screws removed from his legs and receive further treatment.
Robert is Adopted!
While Robert was staying in Utah, the host family that was caring for him offered to adopt him! Our Partner, KCM has since managed the complicated legal process to permit this and just last month, Robert spent his first Christmas with his three new brothers and parents.
An Incredible Journey
It’s been an incredible seven years for Robert since that terrible day when he was abducted and stabbed. Thanks to hundreds of generous and loving strangers, Robert now has a safe and healing home to grow with a bright future ahead of him. He may never get the chance to thank you personally but we want to thank you on his behalf. His joyful spirit is an inspiration to us all!
If you donated a few dollars, made a meal for Robert and his carers, changed his bandages, gave him a toy, served him on an airplane, approved his many free flights, booked his tickets, gave him a hospital bed-bath, operated on him, pushed his wheelchair, massaged his legs and hands, prayed for him, or provided any other support – we want to thank you! You’ve so clearly changed a life and brought hope and light to a very dark situation.
And to Robert, we are super proud of you. You shine as a symbol of hope to other survivors of child sacrifice. We know you’ll continue to do great things and look forward to following your journey in America!
Attacked for child sacrifice
No opportunities for healing
Unable to walk
No opportunities for education
Stuck in poverty
Cared for by St Paul’s
Sponsored through school
Job opportunities and financial security