|Charles is the biological father of nine children and has also adopted four nieces and nephews all orphaned from AIDS. Charles volunteers his time caring for AIDS patients and educating his community about HIV and AIDS.|
, 48, is an extraordinary father. He is the biological father of nine children and has also adopted four nieces and nephews all orphaned from AIDS.
Charles lives in the slums of Kirinya parish, Uganda, in a two-bedroom house that also serves as his store front during the day.
Charles sells onions, tomatoes and bananas and earns about $11 a week. His wife also sells produce at a market far from their home. Even though Charles and his family have financial difficulties, Charles has resolved to add his value to his community in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
His decision emanated from the death of his a sister, a brother-in-law, two brothers and two sisters-in-laws.
“None of my deceased relatives wished to disclose to anyone that they were dying of AIDS. The community was full of stigma…. I knew after my brother’s death, that I wanted to do something to stop more people from dying,” Charles said.
Some of Charles’ adopted children are HIV positive having contracted the virus from their deceased parents. His challenge has been to counsel his adopted children and give them a positive outlook on life.
Following his new found mission, Charles enrolled in a week-long training session on HIV and AIDS Home Based Care. “CCF was calling for volunteers here in my village. I completed the training and they gave me a certificate,” Charles said.
Charles now spends his extra time bathing, counseling and visiting with AIDS patients.
Like a caring father, Charles checks in on his clients regularly by making home visits and also educates at-risk and vulnerable women and children about HIV and AIDS.
“Now, I have 40 clients, 12 of them are men and the rest are women and children,” Charles said. “My training allows me to write letters to specialized HIV and AIDS care centers to refer my patients who need additional assistance,” Charles said. Charles also participates in outreach presentations to teach his community about HIV and AIDS.
Charles’ 16-year-old son, Phillip, joins his father on house calls when he has the time. “What Dad is doing for the community, the volunteering, is noble…. I have learned from him that engaging in sex at my age in unnecessary. I will wait for marriage,” Phillip said.
Charles’s commitment to combating AIDS and caring for patients is an important part of his life. He still faces many challenges such as stigmas from the community about AIDS. He knows he can not educate those who do not wish to be educated but he can be a good role model for his children, both biological and adopted and support and care for his clients.