Today, one of our Sole Hope Uganda Interns, Kayla, will introduce you to Emma – a boy who has won a special place in our hearts – who has the sweetest smile. Though his case is not jigger related, it is a story of HOPE and healing. I’m sure you’ll be drawn to his JOY, just as we are. – Lis Steckle, International Coordinator

Meet Emma! Emma is a sweet 12-year-old boy, but he isn’t like most other children his age. You won’t find him running around playing soccer , and you often won’t see him joining in on group games. Emma can’t run around for very long – even after a few minutes of standing, he has to sit down. The reason Emma doesn’t join in on most physical activity is because he has an extremely swollen right arm and the weight is too much for his little body to carry around. Although Emma has a severe physical disability, he is one of the most joy-filled, loving boys you will ever meet. He lights up every room he enters with his beautiful smile and constant laughter.

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For the past two years, Emma’s entire right arm has grown and expanded to the point that he can no longer lift his arm or even move his fingers. It has persistently caused him pain and limits his everyday functioning. The swelling continues from his arm, up his neck, and down part of his back. His grandfather, who was his primary caregiver for many years, did not understand what was causing the swelling and he did not have the means to seek medical attention. On a few occasions, they sought to use village medicine and herbal remedies to heal his arm but nothing stopped his arm from growing.

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It was during a village jigger removal clinic that we met Emma. Although he didn’t have jiggers, Emma’s family had heard that Sole Hope would be working in the village near his home and they came to seek help. When we met them in the village and heard about Emma’s story, we knew we needed to assist them in some way. We wanted to provide a means for them to begin to find answers.

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Peter, one of the Sole Hope social workers, assisted Emma and Auntie Sarah to multiple different doctors. At first, there was talk about cancer and amputation. Thankfully, after a visit to two other specialists, it was concluded there was no cancer, but instead there was a problem with the lymphatic tissue in his arm that was not draining properly. We were all praising Jesus as the options for treatment were much more hopeful!

The doctor fit Emma with a compression sleeve that he now wears every single day. Although it often causes him great pain as it moves the fluid out his arm, we have begun to see progress! Emma is now able to wiggle his thumb, which was not possible just a few weeks ago! The Sole Hope tailors are also continually needing to sew his compression sleeve tighter as it is now too big for his arm.

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We are hopeful that there will be continued healing and that one day we will see Emma running around playing soccer with the other children his age, free of pain and physical limitation!

All photos by Kayla Cervenka.