Hannington Kabugo lost his mother Milly to Parkinson’s Disease nearly two decades ago. As her condition worsened, Hannington recalls, Milly's tremors became so intense that she couldn’t walk, wash, or even hold a cup.
Like many afflicted with this devastating neurodegenerative condition, Hannington’s mother suffered immensely.
Unlike those who receive this diagnosis in the developed world, she suffered in isolation and died alone.
In Uganda, this is the heartbreaking reality for those stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. Many Ugandans believe those suffering from the affliction have been punished for practicing witchcraft. Milly Kabugo, like so many others in Uganda, was believed to be cursed and contagious. Hannington's father explained that must separate to spare the children from this same fate.
Milly Kabugo spent her final days, alone in her home, unable to walk, feed herself, or provide basic self-care. She was left to battle this mysterious affliction alone.
Against his father’s will, Hannington would sneak out of their rented house to check on his mother. He witnessed her rapid deterioration, her immense suffering, and her agonizing isolation. Hannington watched his mother die alone. This is a heartbreak that nobody should know.
Hannington’s mother endured her illness without treatment or human contact, struggling through her final days in the face of crushing loneliness. Hannington has since dedicated his life to sparing his fellow Ugandans from this unthinkable fate. As co-founder of Parkinson’s Si Buko (translated as Parkinson’s is Not Witchcraft), Hannington works tirelessly to inform and educate Ugandans on the realities of Parkinson’s disease. Working to shift perceptions and protect others from the rapid decline that comes with untreated Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinson’s Si Buko is committed to removing the stigma around this condition. Your support will help fund critical awareness campaigns, information seminars, health care training, medical conferences, and improved access to medicine, therapy and human support for Ugandans living with Parkinson’s Disease.
Imagine suffering from a neurological condition that not only robs you of your body and mind, but which takes your family from you as well. Imagine being shunned, ostracized, and accused of witchcraft even as this condition ultimately takes your life.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, medicine, therapy, and exercise are essential for slowing its progress, improving survival, and raising the quality of life for those battling the condition. Sadly, far too many Ugandans are deprived of this opportunity, forced instead to live their final days in solitude, neglect, and suffering.
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But for Hannington, this heartbreak would also be a call to action. He and Sherryl Klingelhofer (USA) began Parkinson’s Si Buko Uganda and pledged to create help and hope for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease in Uganda and throughout the African continent.
Parkinson’s is a devastating condition, no matter where you come from. If you have witnessed a loved one in the grip of this disease, or you yourself are grappling with Parkinson’s, then you understand the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that can cast a shadow over your worst days.
But in order to do so, we need your help! Your contributions will shine a much-needed light on a condition that is shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding for far too many Ugandans.
(edited - A.C. Woolnough, author & WPC Ambassador)
Hannington receives the Robin A. Elliot Award for outstanding community service