An older woman wearing a long floral dress looks over to the children sitting in front of her big brick house. Each child is holding bowls filled with a mixture of silverfish, rice, and vegetables. Giggling between each mouthful, the children happily enjoy their lunch on a warm afternoon in Kampala, Uganda.
After raising nine biological children, Teo, the woman wearing the long floral dress, opened up her home to children from her community who were once orphaned. Today, she cares for fifteen children of varying ages. Teo has built a reputation in her community as an exceptional caregiver, so neighbors reach out whenever a child needs a home. When asked how she feels about raising so many children, she said she is always committed to taking care of each of them despite feeling hectic.
Teo has become one of the most respected leaders in her community. Not only does she look out for its children, but she also cares for the health of its citizens. For years now, Teo has volunteered as a community health worker. Alluding to earlier life experiences, she said that she doesn’t want anyone to suffer the way she did. She often walks along the dirt paths that connect each house, going door to door to invite families to attend vitamin distributions and other public health activities. One of the health services Teo advocates for is a local organization’s distribution of Vitamin Angels’ vitamin A and deworming for young children.
The children under Teo’s care were the first in their community to receive vitamin A and deworming when they became available. She said she has watched the children grow healthier and knows that the vitamins are playing a vital role. Teo said having free access to the vitamins has been a “joy.” She believes they play an instrumental role in keeping the children in her community healthy.
Teo’s next task: identifying and helping to train additional community health volunteers. Finding those individuals with a passion for the project is essential; it’s not for everyone, she said. However, there’s no doubt that her future teammates and successors have a great role model to follow.