|   Posted: April 05, 2017

“The support and hope Compassion has given me in my life has motivated me to have love and care for children with disabilities.”

Shamim Nakiyemba

“The support and hope Compassion has given me in my life has motivated me to have love and care for children with disabilities.”

Shamim's life was changed with the help of Compassion and her sponsor

Home Country: Uganda

Occupation: Founder of Sherinah’s House of Hope, a ministry for children with disabilities in Uganda.

Life Goal: “My dream is to see children with disabilities living life to their full potential.”

Shamim’s life took a different turn when neglect left her with permanent disabilities. But Compassion, and her sponsor, refused to give up on her.

Turning Disability Into Ability

Shamim was nervous as she walked up the path to her mother’s home. She hadn’t seen her mother since she was a toddler – since the day little Shamim was abandoned.

“I didn’t even remember what she looked like,” remembers Shamim.

But the 9-year-old’s nerves were outweighed by her curiosity. Raised by her grandmother, Shamim had always been curious about her mother. Who was she? What did she do? So when her mother finally contacted her grandmother and invited Shamim to come on a monthlong school break, she was eager to go.

The last few steps of her journey felt weighted though. She already missed her grandmother and her friends and the tutors at the Compassion center. She wondered if she should have written to tell her sponsor, Hannah, about her visit. Should she have brought some of Hannah’s letters with her? To show her mother?

Shamim quickly learned, though, that she wouldn’t see much of her mother. She worked long hours every day, and Shamim was left at home alone to clean and cook. Each night Shamim went to bed missing home.

And then, one morning, Shamim woke up with her body burning with fever. Her head hurt, and she felt so tired. While her grandmother had learned through Compassion the warning signs that prompted an urgent doctor’s visit, her mother didn’t understand just how sick little Shamim was.

“One morning I woke up and I couldn’t hear. I could only hear squeaking sounds in my ears but not people’s voices,” says Shamim. “But my mom thought I was pretending and didn’t want to work. One week later, she took me to the clinic, but it had worsened.”

Doctors diagnosed Shamim with malaria and mumps, which had damaged her hearing. By the time she finally returned home to her grandmother, Shamim was completely deaf.

“When my grandmother came, she was so disappointed when she called me and I couldn’t hear her. She told Compassion about it, and Compassion quickly gave her money to take me to a big hospital,” says Shamim.

Shamim’s hearing loss was permanent, and doctors could do nothing to reverse it. Shamim quickly fell behind in school, and she says her friends ran away from her because she could not talk to them.

But the staff at the Compassion center wanted the little girl to know that she would not be abandoned again. They researched resources for children with special needs and were finally able to find a school that had a program for deaf students.

Shamim is a student at Kyambogo University in Uganda
Shamim loves the children at her ministry, Sherina’s House of Hope

Shamim excelled at her new school where she learned sign language and to read lips. When she was 14, she was even chosen to be the district representative of a national association for the deaf in Uganda.

Today, Shamim is a student at Kyambogo University in Uganda where she is studying accounting. And when she’s not studying, she is serving at her very own ministry, Sherinah’s House of Hope, which she formed to help other children with special needs in Uganda. Shamim already has 25 students in her program, and she knows it will only grow as she finds other children like her. Children who were abandoned, neglected and thought they had no future.

“The support and hope Compassion has given me in my life has motivated me to have love and care for children with disabilities. Without Compassion, I couldn’t have been where I am. Because I grew up seeing many children with disabilities who have not succeeded in life, and how the community minimizes them and treats them with negativity, I wanted to form a ministry to help these children and change their disability into ability,” says Shamim.