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We were traveling between the western Ugandan towns of Kasese and Fort Portal, flying down the road in our shared taxi car, when we noticed it. What I first saw was a pile of green clothing, which matched the uniforms worn by the students walking along the road. The heap of clothing was laying in the middle of the road, and my first thought was That can’t be a kid… no one would leave a child lying in the middle of the street. Jon said the first thing he noticed was a huge group of kids running towards the pile of clothing.

As our car neared the spot, it became apparent that it was a child in the street – a boy about 6 or 7 years old.  We stopped the car just as a woman ran into the street and picked him up.  He was completely limp in her arms, and bleeding profusely.

She brought him to the side of the road, and when she laid him down, he started to cry out for his mother.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief – I had been almost certain that he was dead.

Our driver, Billy, asked the woman what had happened, and she said that he’d been hit by a boda boda.  The boda driver had fled on his bike into the bush…a hit and run.

Jon and I asked the driver if we should take the boy to the hospital in Fort Portal, about 20 km away.  Billy said that there was a clinic much closer, in the town we’d just passed.  He asked if we minded the detour, and of course we said we didn’t.

Billy sprung into action, turning the car around and popping the trunk of his station wagon so that the woman and the boy could sit inside.  The woman sat with the boy on her lap, swabbing the blood off his head and face and trying to calm him as he wailed for his mom.  When I asked the driver if she knew the boy, he said no, that she had just been passing by, a Good Samaritan.

We rushed back to the town with the clinic, which happened to be right next to the school the boy had come from.  Billy and the Good Samaritan woman brought the boy out of the car to the clinic, which was filled with people waiting in line to be seen.  I could understand parts of what they were saying in their local language – “Emergency”, “He was hit by a motorcycle,” “someone find his teacher -we need to call his Mom”.  Clearly, the whole community assembled at the clinic knew the boy, and they crowded around him, chattering about what to do.

Finally, a nun (and evidently a nurse) came to the scene, picked up the boy, and brought him inside.  We left her with a small donation for the clinic, in hopes that it would help pay for the boy’s treatment.

We’d done what we could do, and Billy got back into the car to resume the drive to Fort Portal.

On the way back, Jon thanked Billy for not hesitating to help, even though it meant time and money to him.  “When a life is in danger, money doesn’t matter,” Billy replied.  “I just did what any other human being would do.”

A few kilometers past the site of the accident, we were pulled over by the police.  Oh no, I thought,
they’re going to give us trouble. The police here, like many other places, are infamous for being corrupt and not often protecting those whom they are supposed to protect.  I was suspicious.

Instead, the officer wanted to know what we knew about the accident, if we’d seen the boda boda driver, and if we knew anything about how the boy was doing.  The officer had heard that he was dead, and he was very concerned.  We told him our story, and he told us the police would be searching the area around where the boda driver fled, to try and find him.  I was grateful, and surprised, by the competence and helpfulness of the police in this situation.

On the rest of the drive, I reflected on all of the goodness we’d seen after such a terrible accident.  The Good Samaritan woman who took care of the child like he was her own.  Our driver, Billy, who was so quick to help.  And the police officer who was ready to do his job to help.  In a place like Uganda, where just getting by is a struggle for most, it was so redeeming to see people take care of a stranger, even at their own expense.


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