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"I could have used my tears."

Story by CURE International May 14th, 2017

There’s a little girl in a Ugandan village named for a Sicilian saint who lived two thousand years ago.


When her mother, Florence, went to the hospital to deliver her daughter, she had no idea what was about to happen—even after giving birth to six other children.

Florence and her seventh child

Everything seemed normal.

Everything seemed fine.

Until the baby started crying uncontrollably.

Her husband thought that some “spirits of the land” had bewitched their daughter. His friend told him to take her to a traditional healer. Florence said, “No. I’m taking her to the church.”

Seeking healing from a witch doctor instead of a medical doctor is a commonly accepted practice in many rural villages

Prayers were offered at the church, along with a new name: Agatha. The catechist said that Agatha was a steadfast woman of God, strong-willed and passionate, and changed her name to inspire her character.

After their visit to the church the crying stopped, but something strange was happening to Agatha. A woman came and pointed out to Florence that something was wrong with Agatha’s head.

“The back is fine, but the front is soft.”
Agatha before treatment

For a second time, it was recommended that Agatha should be seen by the witch doctor. While she was thinking it over, Florence’s sister returned from a trip to Mbale. She told Florence that she had seen other children with big heads going to a hospital for treatment there. Her sister told her to go to the CURE hospital in Mbale as soon as possible.

Florence said, “‘I don't know where CURE is and I don’t have money, but I have goats.’ I sold some goats to get money and told myself that I will travel in the day so I won’t get lost!”

“I was frightened about the condition that Agatha had. I had never seen it before or heard of it. So when I was going to CURE I was literally crying. I didn't need water to wash my face. I could have used my tears.”

At CURE Uganda, Agatha’s condition was formally diagnosed: she was suffering from hydrocephalus. Left untreated, hydrocephalus leads to significant brain damage, severe developmental delay, blindness, and ultimately, death.

A child with hydrocephalus at CURE Uganda

Agatha had surgery at CURE Uganda, a world-leader in the treatment of hydrocephalus, and has never needed another procedure.

Dr. Peter Ssenyonga and Dr. Ben Warf  in surgery at CURE Uganda
“There was one time I slept in the night and had a dream. I saw an acre of graves. Agatha is the only one that came out of there. And that is when I heard a voice saying, ‘Your child is healed.’ I felt a lot of joy. I told some of the people whom we pray with and they told me that Agatha is a victor, that Agatha was not supposed to be what she is now, but it is God Himself who fought this battle to make her what she is today.”

Throughout this experience, Florence had some trouble in the village with people saying negative things about her and Agatha. But she says of CURE Uganda, “They helped me and I learned a lot so that when I came back this way I am like a trained physician. I explain to these people about hydrocephalus. It has nothing to do with witchcraft. It has nothing to do with family planning. It is just a thing that can affect anyone irrespective of your status.”

“Agatha, she is a testimony, she is a miracle. Because God used the doctors, God used the staff, and she is now fine. I even made a decision: I gave my life to Jesus and I made a decision that nothing shall separate me from the love of God. Because even in the Bible it asked what should separate us from the love of God? Is it hunger? Is it nakedness? And I have that determination that nothing, not even death, shall separate me from Jesus.”
Agatha and her brother Elijah are very close

Agatha is growing into her namesake: she’s full of passion, loves singing in church, and doesn’t mind causing some trouble every now and again.


She’s a perfectly healthy little girl, and Florence couldn’t be happier.

“Agatha is a gift from God. I just look at her and I’m encouraged.”
Footnote: Written and photographed by Bryce Alan Flurie