April 4, 2012

Gulu, Nodding Disease March 2012

Over the weekend I travelled to the north of Uganda to photograph a 13 year old girl, Nancy. Nancy suffers from a little known disease named 'nodding disease' which first emerged in South Sudan in the 1960's, since spreading to northern Uganda and Tanzania. The disease is thought to be linked to the black fly and river blindness.

It is a disease that mentally and physically disables children between the ages of 5- 15 years. During the seizures (depending on the severity), which usually begin when presented with food or changes in temparature, the child can collapse leading to further injury. In Nancy's case she has come close to drowning in the near by river, or burning herself on small cooking fires within the vicinity of her home.
To avoid further suffering families tie their affected children to trees to keep them within a safe distance away from harm.

The images above were taken mid afternoon, after a nodding eposode earlier that morning which left Nancy exhasted and lifeless. 

Copyright Independent Newspaper UK/ Rebecca Vassie 

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