Ugandan Boy Adjusting In US

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Opio also showed his visitors drawings he had made with crayons and colored pens and number he had written on a large piece of notepaper. “He seems to be very good with numbers and five minutes after meeting him, he was already demonstrating his arithmetic skills to me,� Allimadi, who was accompanied by other Ugandans for the visit, said.

WORLD NEWS


Ugandans in the New York area have rallied to the support of an eight-year old Ugandan severe burn victim being monitored for possible trauma at the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in New York.


Opio Ivance, who was brought to the United States about four and a half months ago, is in the children’s section of the hospital. He was seen playing with other children today and has become one of the most popular youngsters in the ward. It's possible he may be ruled medically fit, apart from the burn wounds sustained years ago.

“When I saw him today, he had already taught some American children how to sing in Kiswahili,� said Milton Allimadi, publisher of The Black Star News. “I think the song is called ‘Teacher mzuri, mzuri, mzuri.’ He would demonstrate a dance move as he sang and the American kids joined in.�

Opio also showed his visitors drawings he had made with crayons and colored pens and numbers he had written on a large notepaper. “He seems to be very good with numbers and five minutes after meeting him, he was already demonstrating his arithmetic skills to me,� Allimadi, who was accompanied by other Ugandans for the visit, said. "We will keep people posted on his well-being. A report in a Ugandan paper that he suffered a breakdown is not true."

“Opio sustained severe burns while living in one of those wretched concentration camps in Uganda,� Allimadi added. “I was told that he is monitored to determine when he might be fit for the surgery he needs to repair the damage to his arms and his chest at another facility. The boy tells me that he hopes to be able to play basketball one day.� Opio also demonstrated some soccer skills, swinging his leg to demonstrate how he scores goals. Unlike the American children, Opio stays way from television in the recreation room, preferring to write down numbers instead.

Opio has learned some English at a remarkable rate since his arrival here in the United States although he is not hesitant to speak in Acholi to hospital staff, some of whom nod in agreement. Some staff members have grown so fond of the boy that some are even willing to provide a home for him if need be.

“With good body language, and the kid is expressive, he seems to have found a way to communicate effectively. However, several of us Acholi speakers have now volunteered to rotate visits to ensure that Opio receives proper attention,� added Allimadi.

Allimadi noted that he has also met the American woman, Jeanette Quinn, who brought Opio to the United States. The circumstances of bringing the boy to the country, and the current status of guardianship were not immediately clear.

“For the time being, we want to ensure a somewhat familiar environment so we invite any caring Ugandan, and other Acholi speakers in the New York region to consider making themselves available,� Allimadi added. “We will do everything to see that he gets any treatment he needs for his burns. Whether US laws were broken in getting Opio here, we shall wait to see. No one is going to take advantage of this boy at all. That much we can assure.�

Opio ended up in the U.S. hospital after airport Security at John F. Kennedy International Airport prevented him and Quinn from boarding a plane out of the United States on March 22 after an "incident" The Black Star News has learned—Quinn wanted to return the boy to Uganda or take him to some other location. New York City officials then quickly swung into action and took control. Opio’s severe burns, sustained more than four years ago hampers arm mobility.


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