‘LIGHT at the end of the tunnel’ is a famous quote that tells the story of a 15-year-old boy from Nyakanazi-Kagera Region– Hamimu Baranyikwa. His life has been saved, thanks to President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s timely intervention.
It was just by mere coincidence that Hamimu who is suffering from a strange skin ailment was spotted on the roadside by President Samia on October 16th, last year, during her working visit in the region.
Despite the effect of the skin disease on his face and other parts of his body, the boy’s face still expressed deep remorse and this was when President Samia sent her assistants to speak with him to establish the problem.
Due to the advice from experts, the President directed that Hamimu be moved from Nyakanazi to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam for medical examination and treatment after suffering from the disease for a long time.
Six months down the line, Hamimu meets with President Samia after undergoing intensive treatment at the MNH. The young boy had requested to meet the president to express his sincere gratitude to the Head of State for her intervention to make sure he received medical care for his skin disease.
And, his request was granted as he was taken to the State House in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday to meet the president.
Indeed, Hamimu could not believe his eyes that the person standing before him was President Samia. He just looked down, awestruck and vividly, the surprise culminated with a jovial mood.
“Your face looks familiar like that of President Samia,” said Hamimu and the President responded “You are looking at Mama Samia…you said you wanted to meet her.”
Tilting his head down and quite surprised, Hamimu responded again “It’s true, you are the one.”
The president held the boy’s hand and examined it with motherly care.
For Hamimu, this was yet another therapeutic; flushing out bad memories of neglect and stigma he faced during his past years of misery and suffering.
Before the treatment, the boy had scars in most parts of his body and this made him timid. He was being stigmatised by some people from children to adults who came across him, something which made him feel very bad.
Thanks to the treatment he received due to the support extended by President Samia, the boy now feels very confident about himself.
Hamimu’s skin which was badly wrinkled on various parts of the body including his arms prevented him from holding anything, but right after treatment, he is able to eat without support and hold various items like other ordinary people.
Narrating his ordeal while at the hospital, the boy recounted the suffering and sadness that the disease had crippled his childhood for a very long time.
He recounts, “I was simply an outcast. People hardly wished to set eyes on me and for some, meeting or having an encounter with me was a disgrace.
“I really thank President Samia…I hope to see her for the way she has helped me. I wish to see her with my own vivid eyes, how she looks,” said Hamimu.
He learnt of the president’s visit and that she will be passing in Nyakanazi where he lives with his parents.
“I expressed my intention to go at the public meeting but my parents warned me not to go…they said I will scare away people due to my condition when they set eyes on me. They asked me what mission I had there, warning that people would only beat me up,” said Hamimu.
On the other hand, his brother encouraged him to go. “My brother encouraged me to attend the public rally, saying that maybe the president might help.
“I woke at night and sneaked out so that my parents would not see me and deny me permission to go there,” he narrated.
According to Hamimu, on several occasions his parents tried to send him to herbalists and even sold their assets to service his treatment but with no success.
It reached a moment whereby he completely gave up and did not want to go to the herbalist anymore as he prayed for God’s mercy.
“I’m very grateful to President Samia, my face now looks okay…people are talking with me without looking down at me and I can also look at them back,” said Hamimu during an interview with an online television.
Hamimu was admitted at MNH on October 21, last year and discharged on April 19th, this year.