Child Sacrifice - A Survivors Story
Alan Ssembatya is an intelligent 7 year old boy who was kidnapped as he was walking back from school with his friends in October, 2009. His family and friend were alerted and they started a desperate search which continued for several hours. Eventually, someone heard a whimpering from under a bush. They rushed to find Alan, barely alive and laying in a pool of his own blood. His wounds were horrific. His skull had been ripped open by the heavy blow of an axe, and a section of his skull had been removed. He suffered a deep stab wound to the neck, and was castrated. Yet he was alive. This innocent life had become yet another victim of (attempted) child sacrifice.
Child sacrifice is an epidemic sadly on the rise in Uganda and other parts of Africa. Every year, countless numbers of children are killed on the command of traditional healers and witch doctors. Individual body parts, most often facial features and the genitals of these vulnerable and innocent children, are cut off for ceremonial use in the belief that they will be consumed by spirits, leading to riches or solving of other problems. This is a deeply disturbing phenomenon – strongly driven by fear, superstition, religion and magical thinking. Social, economic, cultural and psychological factors influence the sickening act.
After Alan was discovered alive, he was rushed to Kayunga Hospital in Kayunga Distict, and transferred to Mulago Hospital where he urgently underwent surgery. The team of surgeons successfully closed the deep wound to his skull with skin, and stabilised his other injuries. Alan’s deep wounds led to stroke however, and as a result he remains with left sided loss of sensation and weakness. Since the attempted sacrifice, he also suffers epileptic type attacks. Amazingly, and as a testament to his determination and positive spirit, Alan has recovered full ability of his left leg over time. Yet sadly, he remains with weakness and numbness in his left arm.
Alan and his father willingly became a voice in our ‘End Child Sacrifice’ Campaign, and his story touched our hearts, and the hearts of many others. A respected Neuro Surgeon in Kampala has heard about Alan’s horrific injuries and together with his surgical team has offered to perform surgery to close the gap in Alan's skull. While surgeons were initially able to close the wound to Alan’s skull with tissue (see above photo), the brain has remained vulnerable to impact and further damage due to the remaining gap in the protective skull bone. The surgery to repair this was scheduled to take place on 12 July 2010 (Update: Postponed indefinitely due to the recent bombings in Uganda).
We thank you for considering Alan, for praying and for helping in whatever ways you feel you are able.