February 1 to February 7 marks International Development Week (IDW), celebrating Canada’s contribution to international development, especially in improving the health of women and children. The theme this year is “We are making a difference!” The entire week, Grand Challenges Canada will publish short success stories, showing how our Bold Ideas with Big impact are saving and improving the lives of those who need it the most in developing nations. Through Integrated Innovation in global health, the novel projects we support are making a difference!
Nekolina lives in Northern Uganda with her eight children, two of whom have Nodding Syndrome. Nekolina reported feelings of sadness and desperation: “Whenever I see other community members discriminating against my children, I feel sad, rejected and lonely. One of my children with Nodding Syndrome sometimes asks me why do others not want to play with me.” These experiences resulted in Nekolina’s withdrawal from all community activities that she previously engaged in.
In September 2013, Nekolina joined the Family-based Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy sessions in her village (IPT-F). This innovative intervention, led by Makerere University School of Public Health and supported by Grand Challenges Canada, aims to improve family based care, mental well-being and overall health for communities and individuals affected by the Nodding Syndrome.
Almost immediately after joining the IPT-F group, Nikola’s resiliency was rejuvenated and she increasingly became more functional. She is now an active member of a community group raising incomes to improve their households. Her mood symptoms have improved significantly and other caregivers in her IPT-F group reported Nekolina is very supportive towards others and has become a model for the other group members.