01 Aug Community Mobilization for HIV/AIDS Awareness
Written by Vanessa Rotondo, 2014 East Africa: Discovery.
The philanthropist seeks to promote human welfare, to ease suffering, and alleviate the burdens that often find shelter in the human heart. Compassion acts as the footing to all which is built upon it and love is the structure that forever sustains it.
On our way to Namasuba, structure it seemed, was nowhere to be found. Between time scheduling, transportation arrangements, and makeshift roads, it was safe to say that we got off to a rough and bumpy start. Nonetheless it was time to put the pedal to the metal, to hit the pavement, and to get our first project off of the ground.
After settling in to our quarters we were welcomed by our second of four partners, Rescuing Widows Elderly Orphans and Youth with AIDS (RWEOYWA). We were given the run-down of their efforts by Tony and Kasamba, two highly passionate locals, spearheading HIV/AIDS education and awareness within the community. Under their guidance we created over 400 posters in preparation for our community mobilization efforts. We walked the streets in one giant OG team, hammering nails into trees, brick walls, and any other surface that would support our words:
OKUKEBELA OMUSAYI KWABWERERE OGWA
SILIMU, KABOTONGO, CANDIDA, NENDELA ZONNA OZOBUKUBA
JENGU OYAMBIBWE KU NKOLA
ZONNA EZA FAMILY PLANNING
*Translation? Free HIV/AIDS testing and other sexual transmitted diseases, family planning and counselling
We handed out flyers and put our Luganda lessons to good use, greeting the locals in their native tongue in an attempt to better bridge the gap between language and culture. We ventured through schools, shops and markets, up and down unpaved red-brick coloured roads, across narrow pathways, spreading the word and sparking people’s interest in our cause.
Little did we know that our two-day canvassing efforts would lead to testing and counselling over 400 locals from all over the Wakiso region. Each member of the team helped in their own way and in different capacities. From testing to coordinating, pre-counselling, to post-result processing, the man-power was necessary and the team really came through in making the day a true success.
Sweaty, hungry, and exhausted, we returned to our humble abode where we enjoyed a hearty home-cooked meal made by our surrogate mother, known endearingly as Mamma, and each other’s company. We shared our days’ worth of thoughts and experiences over a feast of matoke, rice, potatoes, cabbage, beef stew, and spiced tea.
The impact of completing our first project was both hard-hitting and humbling. Despite meeting a slew of challenges, from poor logistics to positive results, we rose to the occasion as a unit and in solidarity, meeting the local community with compassion and wide-open whole hearts.
I am proud of my team, my leaders, our partners, and the people who had the courage to come forward for testing. I am proud of us perfect strangers, of the glue that bound us perfectly together, of the voice that resonated within all of our hearts and for our courage to listen to it. It was a voice that spoke to humanitarian efforts, for crossing the world, forgetting comforts and commodities. I am proud to be a good-doer, to promote human welfare, to ease the suffering of our global neighbours, our fellow brothers and sisters, to alleviate even just a sliver of their burdens, and to love so much deeper – deeply from the heart.
2014 East Africa: Discovery