We ARE CHAMPIONING THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS in Okere
When I started Okere City, it was very clear to me that dwelling on the plethora of challenges that riddle my community was out of the equation. Working in the development industry, I know the indignations brought about by what many times is referred to as "poverty pornography". I choose not to focus on our problems because there are certainly more opportunities that we can harness for our emancipation.
But I can not keep quiet about the HIV/AIDS Predicaments my village finds itself enmeshed in. We carried out a baseline survey to understand the gravity of the problem and the data were heart-wrecking. For instance, 68% of the households in the village have at least a Person Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS). 15% of PLWHIV/AIDS are children under the age of 15years.
Behind the data are stories, experiences and live realities of people closest to me. They are my brothers, cousins, aunties, uncles, mothers, and even grandparents. One of them is Ochen Milton, an essential pillar of our household. The story of Milton's negative HIV/AIDS and the conflict in Northern Uganda are inextricably linked. When we were displaced by the LRA insurgency, Milton took a fish mongering path and he lived in landing site on the shores of Lake Kyoga where he got infected. For decades, Milton has accepted his HIV/AIDS status and has become an HIV/AIDS activist and the Chairperson of Okere PLWHIV/AIDS. He encourages and mobilizes PLWHIV/AIDS to regularly check their CD4 counts and take their ARV pills. Milton is also contesting to become the L.C III of Adwari Sub-County in the upcoming 2021 elections.
Inspired by Milton's courage, hard work and determination, I ensured that free HIV/AIDS services was available at Okere Community Health Centre, one of our projects in Okere City. Currently, we provide free HIV/AIDS testing and counselling services. We also provide free HIV/AIDS Health education, free condoms and run campaigns to encourage young people to know their HIV/AIDS statuses.
My hope is that this #WorldAIDSDay2020 endears you to do something to fight this pandemic in what whatever way you can!