Mubiru Lwasa: The Boy In A Box

Lwasa is one of the very many patients who have received life-changing care and treatment in Hope Ward, thanks to the continued support from our generous sponsors, some of whom take part each year in the MTN Fun Run.

I am re-posting this, it was first published on February 20th, 2010.


Last year there were almost 250 patients cared for on Hope Ward. I am always inspired when I read the patient stories and I wanted to share this one in particular; in summary Mubiru’s story is:

  • Abused by his grandmother at age 12, locked in a metal box,
  • Rescued by his neighbours,
  • Thought to be dying, handed over to a hospice,
  • Brought by the hospice nurse to Hope Ward, unable to move, talk or look after himself,
  • After very many months of loving care and treatment now looking for a new home and a new start.

Mubiru when he was admitted to Hope Ward Mubiru ready to start a new life

You can read his story below or by clicking here.

If you would like to help Mubiru and our other patients on Hope Ward click here to find the many different ways in which you can give. Please tell others.


Mubiru Lwasa is a young 12 year old boy who has suffered a great deal. Mubiru has never really had a place to call home. His mother and father are separated and have moved on to marry other partners and have other children. He lived with his mother for several years and she took him to primary school however he fell sick and she took him back to his father. At this point she had five children with her current husband (not Mubiru’s father) and she could not continue to care for him. This would mark the beginning of a long period of suffering and abuse in Mubiru’s life.

Mubiru was taken out of school and did hard labour for his grandmother and at some point was beaten so badly that his hand and leg were fractured. He was locked up in a metallic box and starved almost to the point of death. When Mubiru’s father noticed that his son was dying, he took him back to his village in Mpigi for fear of the cost of transporting a dead body.

When Mubiru’s father arrived in Mpigi the people in his village were shocked by the site of the boy’s emaciated body. The villagers refused to let Mubiru’s father rest until he had taken him to hospital. On arrival at Mulago hospital the nurses and others who saw Mubiru’s father carry his crippled smelly body into the hospital were so outraged they wanted to lynch him. Mubiru’s father was then ‘rescued’ by the police and taken to Luzira prison.

However now that Mubiru’s father was taken away there was no one left to take care of Mubiru while he was at Mulago. Fortunately a kind Ugandan lady (Mable) had compassion on him and chose to look after him, though she did not really have much to offer him but loving care.

Medical personnel at Mulago thought Mubiru was dying and contacted a nurse who works for Hospice Uganda. This lady contacted Hope Ward and asked us to admit him for treatment as she did not think he was terminally ill.

When Mubiru first arrived at Hope Ward, he was in very bad shape. He had sores and wounds all over his body. He could barely support himself in the wheelchair and the slightest movement would make him scream. Mubiru could neither talk nor feed himself, he was incontinent, he was very pale and the hair on his head was so thin, his lips were pale dry and chapped, he looked like a patient with full blown AIDS.

In September 2009:Mubiru whilst  being treated on Hope Ward

Mubiru had been on the Hope Ward for about two months. With an improved diet, constant care and daily physiotherapy as well as constant dressing of his wounds, Mubiru’s condition had greatly improved. At this point he was still feeding through a nasal tube most of the time, though he had started a little self feeding. He regained ability to talk and even sang a song to one of our visitors on Hope Ward at the time. Mubiru is a charming naughty boy and all on Hope Ward became very fond of him. One nice cool evening he even requested his carer Mabel to take him out on the wheel chair to enjoy some fresh air in the hospital compound. The physiotherapist noticed that he tried to move his arms and legs (though he would cry while doing so) during his physio sessions.

By November 2009:

Almost all Mubiru’s wounds had healed, his hair had grown back, he was finally fit enough to start a series of surgeries to treat infections in his bones and to straighten his contracted legs. However at this time Mubiru was incontinent and had been wearing diapers since he came to Hope Ward…he had lost ability to control his bladder and bowels because of his long period of abuse.

At this time, Mubiru had gained more strength and began to talk more, much of his memory had returned and he began to give more details of what happened to him before he was brought to Hope Ward. His father had a final court case in the same month (November); Mubiru gave his police statement for the case and we were hopeful that justice would be served but he was only accused of neglect and given an eight month sentence.

We witnessed a very emotional moment on Hope Ward when we called Mubiru’s mother and had him talk to her, he cried really hard and yet she did not commit to come visit him, she was afraid that she would be arrested. Mubiru’s mother has several children from different men, she had left Mubiru with her mother who died shortly after and Mubiru was taken to be with his father where he was abused and almost killed. On the day we put Mubiru in touch with his mother, he asked her when she would come and take him and she said she couldn’t come for him and this really broke his heart. At the time, she had just delivered another baby with her current husband and was not ready to travel to Kampala or take up responsibility for Mubiru.

Today (Feb 2010): We would say that Mubiru has undergone remarkable transformation (as you can see from the pictures). He has had multiple surgeries on his legs, he has had intensive nutritional care and he has grown into a lovely cheeky, healthy boy. He no longer wears diapers and can control his bowels and bladder again; he can feed himself and no longer needs the nasal feeding tube. Mubiru is now receiving physiotherapy to strengthen his muscles and we are training him to walk again. We had braces fitted for his legs which he wears to gradually straighten them. Mubiru’s condition today is much more hopeful than it was about eight months ago when he first came to Hope Ward.

A physiotherapist told me that if you are confined to a bed or if you do not move at all for about three weeks; your body can deteriorate at a very fast rate, and your muscles will atrophy to the extent that you will not be able to walk without rehabilitative physiotherapy. Mubiru was confined to a box and not fed for months; he was left with untreated wounds that transmitted infection to his broken bones. That is why he is unable to walk today. With improved nutrition, tender loving care and good physical exercise, Mubiru will walk again; though this may take a long while.


Presently the hospital ward is not an ideal place for Mubiru to be, if anything he is more exposed to infections from other admitted patients. We have hope that Mubiru will recover and can regain the health and joy a young boy his age should have. However the reality is that his father is now in prison and he cannot return to the people who abused him, broke his bones and left him to die. We are in the process of trying to find a suitable home for Mubiru and we will continue to partner with the home to provide free physiotherapy and any surgery if he needs it to facilitate his return to the normal life of an active and happy young boy. Your kind consideration of our request and compassion for Mubiru will be highly appreciated.

This entry was posted in Fund Raising, Hope Ward, Patients by Kevin Duffy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kevin Duffy

Interim Management and Consulting - Global Healthcare Development. Kevin has over ten years of senior management experience in the delivery of healthcare services in Africa and South Asia. His current focus is on the strategic development of policy, guidance, and tools to help healthcare organisations achieve sustainable impact – balancing the need to become financially sustainable, with the mission of ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare services.

One thought on “Mubiru Lwasa: The Boy In A Box

  1. The photo’s are mind-blowing. Talk about a changed life. Well done Hope Ward. I’ll be running for you!

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