IJ was found at the end of October 20XX in the bush close to Kasese. He was under a month old, and naked.
Not long ago, that was all we knew. But recently Milly and Samson undertook further investigations. In its essentials, the picture that has emerged is unchanged: a baby abandoned in the bush. But the details provide a better understanding of the context, and of how difficult it will sometimes be to find any wider family with whom children might be resettled in due course.
The story starts on farmland abandoned by those who once cultivated it — land where some say there are evil spirits. The main crops are onions, rice and tomatoes, grown in smallish garden-like plots. Rice and tomatoes are very labour intensive, and many farmers there work their garden plots until late.
As Tabuman cycled back home at after 7:30 pm, he heard a baby crying.
His mind immediately conjured up a mother still hard at it, who he imagined must have left her baby unattended on the garden plot at that late hour. He cut a stick, intending to beat the mother for neglecting her child properly. “When I’ve dealt with her”, he said to himself, “she won’t forget her responsibilities again!”
Or could it be an evil spirit? There was a man coming… But the passer-by said he had no children so it nothing to do with him. Tabuman, however, had to do something.
Plucking up his courage, he went to where it seemed a child was still crying. There he found a baby boy lying on a small piece of cloth — naked!
He then rode on to his village. Rwija was a retired parish chief who he knew would help quickly, so he told him. The news spread rapidly from house to house and soon a crowd had gathered. Late though it was, the men decided to go to investigate. And off they went.
Further from the village, however, and in the dark, some began to get cold feet. The crying might not be from a real baby, but from the spirits … evil spirits. Just ten men reached the scene. There, they did indeed find IJ, very chilled in the cold night air. On their return to the village, they asked for donations of clothing, and one family volunteered to host the child.
The following day a radio appeal was broadcast … No-one came forward. The IJ was taken to the Probation Service, who thought they would be able to trace the mother. But they did not manage to do so. After a short time, therefore, IJ was brought to NOTDEC Uganda.