Thank you to Mary Lou LaMontagne for her personal story of Martine.
Martine’s story underscores the profound need for the Hope Centre.
I am the US Tour Manager for the Destiny Africa Children’s Choir from the Kampala Children’s Centre in Uganda. The first tour I managed was for the year 2012. Having never seen the choir perform before, I wasn’t really prepared for what happened when I first met them. I instantly fell in love with these precious children from the very first moment that we met. They exuded a peacefulness about them that was not like anything I had felt before. They were smiling, happy and full of joy. Their faces were angelic and their eyes melted my soul. There were twenty in total from age 9 to 16 and were incredibly talented singers, dancers and drummers. One of the first boys that I got to know was Diego. At 16, he knew he wanted to become an engineer. He had a quiet and gentle spirit about him that melted my heart, especially as he called me Auntie.
In January 2013, my life took an unlikely turn of events and I ended up going to KCC in Uganda. I was thrilled to be going to visit the choir members that I missed so much! Upon arrival I got to hear members of Destiny Africa practicing the song “Oh Happy Day” with my friend Dana. The singing was amazing but one girl in particular, really stood out. Her voice was loud and confident. Her smile was bright and the sound of her voice tugged at my heart. I couldn’t stop looking at this girl, she was like an angel from Heaven. I cried as I listened to the song but couldn’t take my eyes off of this beautiful young woman. She was Martine, Diego’s older sister who also lived at KCC. This girl sang with such compassion and conviction, I was incredibly moved by this experience.
When I left KCC with letters written to me by both Diego and his beautiful sister Martine, letters I will cherish for a lifetime. I remember telling the Director that I wanted to take Martine back to America to live with me, she was a very special young woman.
During the 2013 US tour, with a new group of choir members, we received the disturbing news from Uganda that Martine had not been well and was taken to the hospital. Symptoms of high blood pressure and water on the brain were noted. Over the course of three weeks, her condition went from bad to worse. She went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. People across the globe were trying to help and were praying for this precious young woman’s life. In the end, we lost this angel, she went to be with the Lord on November 3, 2013. The final diagnosis was cerebral edema , we did all we could but the problem was identified too late. Many people around the world were heart-broken over the loss of such a young life.
Did this child have to pass or was it due to inadequate care and misdiagnosed situations? We may never have the answer for this. We do however know that having the opportunity to have better preventative care and a better trained medical team could have made a difference. Our hearts’ desire is to help this group of children have a better chance of receiving the right healthcare at the right time. We want to make a difference in these children’s lives, we are hopeful that others may want to help on this journey.
Mary Lou Lamontagne
US Tour Manager of Destiny Africa