Adolf Baguma came to Los Angeles last November to undergo surgery that allowed him to walk again.
“Anything is possible, that’s what he taught me,” said friend Josh Sokolosky.
“I think Adolf has taught all of us that you can find joy in the little things in life and to not take what we have for granted,” foster mom Ashley Wagenseller echoed.
Adolf became an orphan in Uganda when both of his parents died of AIDS.
Five years ago, he was crippled when a relative caught him stealing food.
“A young aunt apparently tied him down and threw scalding water and banana leaves on him as a punishment,” local attorney Laine Wagenseller explained.
He was never treated for burns to the backs of his legs, which contracted in a 90-degree angle, making him unable to walk or stand.
Wagenseller was volunteering in Uganda when he found Adolf crawling along a dirt road to school. He then set into motion the events that would change Adolf’s life.
Wagenseller recalled the amazing story of people coming together to help out.
“A friend of mine introducing me to the Children’s Burn Foundation, who paid for the surgery… and Dr. Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center saying, ‘Yes, I’ll do the surgery,” he said.
Laine’s brother and his wife, who have four kids of their own, also agreed to take in Adolf for six months.
After multiple surgeries, Adolf learned to walk.
He went to the beach, saw snow, went to Disneyland and saw movies. He ate all the food he wanted, watched TV and took showers.
“We don’t have it. We don’t have like a beach or a park where we can play in there,” Adolph says. “We don’t have anything. That’s why I want to stay here.”
But Adolf can’t stay — at least not for now.
So on Wednesday night he said a heartbreaking goodbye at LAX to the American families who have grown to love him.
He’s flying home to a village with no plumbing, little electricity and a scarcity of food, and where AIDS has wiped out a generation of parents.
“It’s sad how he lived a life out here and he has to go back,” his friend Josh said, choking back tears. “I just don’t know how he’s gonna do it, but he can do it.”
“He needs to go back and be a leader in his village, teach people to help others,” Wagenseller said.
In the meantime, Adolf says he’s asking God to bring him back to U.S. “I’m asking for coming back here so I can see all my friends,” he said.
For more info on orphanages in Uganda log on to: http://www.bringinghope.org/.