Facing the world

Cissy 009Cissy Nasande is facing a potentially life changing operation on 15 June but is most concerned to stress how nice the British medical and charity staff are who tend to her. It is at moments like this in our friendship that I am reminded about how life can be just about compassion and kindness and is not always about politics.

Cissy has a severe facial disfigurement. A growing bone tumour is pushing her right eye forward. ‘Facing the World’, a wonderful charity for children with severe facial disfigurement, has brought Cissy over for medical treatment. Cissy cannot close her right eye when she sleeps. There is a high risk that this eye will become infected and that her sight will become affected. At the moment she has good vision in her right eye. The tumour is also growing backwards into her brain.

On 15 June Cissy will undergo an operation that could last more than 12 hours. Four surgeons – two craniofacial surgeons, one neurosurgeon and one plastics opthamologist – assisted by two junior surgeons, a specialist paediatric anaesthetist and theatre nurses will conduct the operation.

My friendship with Cissy began a few weeks ago when she started attending my church. I was curious about her. Most people are. She is used to people looking at her but is relieved that she has not encountered any teasing in London. Back in Uganda, she says, she does get teased by the children in school. I find this shocking but Cissy finds it even more appalling that in Britain students get away with being rude to teachers. It is in a shared curiosity for each other’s backgrounds that our friendship has grown.

I am fascinated by her lifestyle in the Namuwongo district in Kampala. It is a slum with many refugees who come in from conflict areas. Cissy’s mother, who is in London too, is a Hutu refugee from Congo. Their living conditions are poor. Cissy has to collect fresh water in a pail a distance away from her house. Cissy’s father died from TB last year, sadly, on the morning that they had decided that they could not worry about the cost of medical treatment anymore because his condition had gone downhill. Cissy wants to be a doctor and her education is paid for by an international sponsor. Given her determination and intelligence Cissy will do well.

I am sure fellow Liberal Democrats will join me in sending Cissy best wishes for the weeks ahead. If you would like to help please consider donating to ‘Facing the World’ who do life changing work for children. Alternatively, you could send Cissy something for herself or her family to remember Britain. The charity’s address is on their website.

* Maelo Manning is a 15 year old Lib Dem member. She blogs as Lib Dem Child.

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