Evil trade … Allan Ssembatya, left, and friend George were preyed upon for body parts.
ALL Allan Ssembatya wanted for Christmas was a new soccer ball. Like most Ugandan boys, the 10-year-old is football mad and loves to play his favourite sport with his best friend, George.
''He loves it so much that sometimes he forgets his scars and he can fall down and affect the wound,'' his father, Hudson, 35, says through a translator in his Luganda dialect. ''I don't want him to go to hospital at the end of the day, so sometimes take it [the ball] away and he says, 'I'll kill you'.''
Allan is one of Uganda's few child-sacrifice survivors - the youngster had part of his skull barbarically removed by a witch doctor with a machete after being kidnapped while walking home from school in 2009. The witch doctor, Allan's neighbour, most likely intended to use the boy's body parts in a ritual ceremony after convincing his clients this would bring them wealth, health and prosperity.
Scared ... part of Allan Ssembatya's skull was removed during the sacrifice.
Today as he kicks a ball in Kyampisi village with George, another victim of what's been described as a ''relatively recent phenomenon'' in the east African country, the deep scar around Allan's head is clearly visible. But thanks to Sydney neurosurgeon Charlie Teo and Ugandan charity Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, Allan will hopefully receive a prosthetic skull early next year.
Dr Teo and his team, after learning of Allan's horrific story, have offered to operate on Allan pro bono through the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery. KCM, which built Allan's family a new house after his father was forced to sell it to pay for his son's medical costs, are fund-raising for the Australian trip. However, $100,000 is still needed for hospital costs.
KCM's founder and director, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga, said Allan - a ''bright boy'' seen last year in a BBC Emmy-nominated documentary on Uganda's ritual murders - was the ''public face'' of child sacrifice in the country, but there were ''hundreds of children'' who were killed or went missing every year in suspected attacks.''This is a huge problem and it's done under secrecy,'' Pastor Sewakiryanga said. ''This is a business.''
The African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect said child sacrifice was on the rise in Uganda. This year, KCM have been assisted by Australian volunteers. In May, George, genitally mutilated during an attack in 2009, flew to Australia where two Brisbane surgeons performed life-changing surgery to re-route his urethra.
Boronia Park Public School in Hunters Hill, which donated soccer gear to George, is hoping to raise money for his treatment.
Hudson said Allan would not stop talking about his Australian trip. ''George keeps telling him stories,'' he says. ''He dreams about it and even when he wakes up in the morning he asks me, 'When am I going?'.''