Segments in this Video

Nodding Syndrome (04:59)


In Northern Uganda and South Sudan, thousands of children are sick with Nodding Syndrome. Hope for Humans Center Director of Operations, Angwech Collines visits a family in Odek. Grace was a healthy baby, but became sick around age seven; she has up to 11 seizures in a 24 hour period.

Hope for Humans Center (03:07)

Lillian says that parents with children suffering from Nodding Syndrome often just wait for the children to die. Neurologist Dr. Suzanne Gazda describes the disease that affects children ages 5-15. Ballam, age 14, describes the pain during a convulsive attack.

Ballam's Improvement (03:15)

Ballam lives with his brother Justin in a small hut; their mother died and their father remarried. Visiting the Center has helped Ballam regain the strength to perform simple tasks. He and his brother walk nine miles to get to the center each day.

Bond of Brotherhood (02:18)

Justin and Ballam are close, always looking out for each other. Their father says he feels badly that the boys experience rejection.

Negative Perception (04:08)

Collines says that people believe children afflicted with Nodding Syndrome are cursed. Justin and Ballam's stepmother kicked them out because she fears they are contagious. Jennifer and three of her siblings have Nodding Syndrome; one of her brothers drowned after suffering a seizure because people were scared to help.

Helping the Children (01:59)

Dr. Gaza says that Hope for Humans Center was initially established as a hospice. The support, nutrition, and anti-seizure medications help the children get better.

Assessment Day (01:48)

Hope for Humans holds asses children who are suspected to have Nodding Syndrome. The children are stigmatized and barred from participating in other schools' programs.

Overcoming Stigmas (02:33)

Ballam and Justin are sad when other children refuse to play with them. Collines discusses growing up after her father died and caring for five children.

Civil War and Abduction (02:56)

Dr. Peter Spencer found that Nodding Syndrome was first described in the 1960's in what is now Tanzania but not reported in Northern Uganda until 1997. A civil war occurred during the regime of Joseph Kony. The LRA abducted children and forced them to aid in the genocide of their families.

IDP Camps (02:54)

Families were forced to live in squalor for 10-15 years. Experts believe that children who now have Nodding Syndrome were affected during this time.

Voiceless Victims (01:51)

Collines and Dr. David Lagoro Kitara struggle to understand why Nodding Syndrome is being ignored. Collines recalls being a child during the civil war in Uganda.

Kitgum District (03:35)

Dr. Joseph Wamala travels in a van for outreach programs. The roads are full of potholes and the van often gets stuck, makig the work difficult and inefficient.

Anyero Flo and Scovia (02:36)

Wamala reflects on the suffering of children. Flo has several children with Nodding Syndrome, including Scovia; Scovia has a 6 month old daughter. Flo feels hopeless and sometimes thinks of suicide.

Outreach Negligence (04:47)

The Hope for Humans staff is forced to walk because the roads are impassable. They find two boys suffering from Nodding Disease in a village far too far from the Center to access resources.

Kitgum General Hospital (03:21)

At the hospital, 4,000 registered patients with Nodding Syndrome reside in a ward where there are no nurses; parents care for the children.

Esther's Death (02:29)

The Hope for Humans staff return to Odek. Esther, a student expected to graduate, was found dead in the river.

Strength and Teaching (04:20)

After the death of Esther, children were heartbroken but courageous. Collines tries to teach the community how to grow food and earn money. The Center's children take pride in their gardens and projects.

Community Impact (02:00)

Walter and his family believe the Hope for Humans Center made a serious improvement in their community. Walter can now write a little and will be learning to read.

Angwech Collines' Graduation (03:49)

Collines earned a degree in development from Gulu University. She hopes to be an inspiration for her siblings.

Program Epilogue (01:39)

Collines continues to work for the Hope for Humans Center and is trying to raise money for the Kitgum District. Jennifer attends boarding school. Grace is at the Hope for Humans Center in Odek.

Credits: A Question of Humanity (03:02)

Credits: A Question of Humanity

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A Question of Humanity

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After surviving 20 years of civil war and being forced to live in the deplorable conditions of Internally Displaced Persons' camps, Northern Ugandans return home to discover thousands of their children—who were healthy at birth—developing a bizarre illness called Nodding Syndrome. Children are described by the locals as 'alive in dead bodies' because they become mentally impaired, lose the ability to talk, and their growth is stunted. Children appear to be sleepy and 'nod off'. During these episodes they cannot control their bodies and are prone to wander off and drown in rivers or burn in fires. "A Question of Humanity" follows a young Ugandan woman who operates a small care center for children with Nodding Syndrome as she journeys out to some of her country's most isolated villages where these mentally ill children are treated like outcasts. Feared to be possessed by demons, many children with Nodding Syndrome are tied to trees like animals, neglected by their families, and sexually abused. During this journey, the woman discovers the true strength of the human spirit in the midst of tremendous obstacles and realizes the children she set out to help are actually providing her the strength to carry on.

Length: 64 minutes

Item#: BVL116109

ISBN: 978-1-63521-015-6

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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