by Dr. Gregory Bartha

February 8, 2017

In 2014, Oluka Yakona, a young mechanic, was in a motorcycle accident. He sustained several leg fractures and was hospitalized for a long period. For a time, his family feared he would not survive, but his condition improved. One of the fractures healed, but the ones in his lower left leg did not. The bones became infected; a condition known as osteomyelitis. He needed a crutch to walk and was in constant pain. He was losing hope of ever recovering.

Oluka came to the Cross Clinic in early 2015. The x-ray showed nonunion of the lower leg fractures and osteomyelitis. The clinic team took him to Kumi Hospital to be evaluated by an orthopedist. Surgery to remove the infected bone and to pin the bone fragments was recommended. At the time, we had several patients awaiting surgery, and Oluka was told to be patient. We will arrange for surgery in the near future.

A month later, we took him to Kumi for the operation. He required external fixation – pins placed in the bones to keep them in proper alignment. The pins extended several inches outside his legs. Since that time, the pins have been removed, and a cast was applied. The cast has now been removed, and he walks with a crutch. He is feeling much better with very little discomfort, but the problem may not be completely resolved. Osteomyelitis is notoriously difficult to cure because antibiotics penetrate into the bone only poorly.

Oluka is a strong member of the Akisem Pentecostal Revival Ministry Church in Pallisa District, about a 45 min. drive from my home in Kanginima. He and the church wanted to express their appreciation for the help the Cross Clinic and I had given him, and invited me to come to their Sunday services on August 21, 2016.

When I, along with three team members arrived at the church, we were greeted by singing accompanied by traditional instruments. The choir presented more songs and dances of welcome. I gave a sermon on Christ’s love and concern for the poor and urged the worshipers never to think that their lives were of no value.

At the end of the service, Oluka’s father stood up and, in gratitude, offered up Oluka to be my new son. I would be a member of his clan and have a new name – Odake, meaning God in the Teso language. (I already have a Teso name – Okia, given to me by Pastor Simon Peter.) The congregation brought me gifts of eggs, three chickens, and one turkey (all alive). We then sat down for a meal of rice and beans.

The Akisem Church meets in a rather primitive structure with a thatched roof. A plot of land has been given to them, and they hope to construct a better church building. They have asked for my support in this endeavor. I will try to help them over the next few years.

Oluka is a fine young man with a wife and five children. I plan to stay in close touch with him. I hope he will be able to return to his work as a mechanic. Of course this transfer of sonship was really a gesture of respect and gratitude, but a most touching one. I love the people for their kind and generous spirit, and will do my best to be a faithful son (in spirit and love) to them.

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