Helping Those with HIV/AIDS Live Life Positively
ChildFund International programs provide care and support to thousands of parents and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Our commemoration of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) continues with the story of Mangeni, who is living with HIV/AIDS and working to ensure the livelihood of his family.
My name is Mangeni. I’m 41 years old. I live in a small village called Buyaya, in Buwumba Parish, which is located in Dabani Subcounty within East Uganda’s Busia District, about 217 km from Kampala.
I’m strong and able to work. Subsistence farming is my main source of livelihood. I also manage a small retail shop in Dabani trading centre, which is the biggest trading center in my subcounty.
Preparing My Children
I am a father with five children, two girls and three boys. I and my wife work towards the sustainability of our family. I dearly treasure my family. For this reason, when I learned of my HIV Status in 1991, I and my wife joined The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), where we were enrolled on lifesaving drugs.
I am a member of a number of HIV/AIDS support groups. These have supported me to live positively, and I have remained strong, able to support my children, I want to see them grow to self-sustaining adults. I have no fears about the future, whether I live or not, though I would prefer to live. But in case of anything, I have prepared my children. They are hard working. I have written memory book for them, and I have linked them up to many support groups and my relatives. I, therefore, imagine they would be happy.
How AIDS Has Affected My Community:
- Loss of many people. Death is so common; a month
cannot go without a funeral in this community.
Death is a painful experience.
- There are many orphans as a result of many people
dying of the disease.
- Production is low, people are sickly time to time
and people are weak. As a result, no food security,
high crime rate and children who are left as orphans
find their way to town for cheap labor.
- Divorce, in case of discordant couples. When a woman
and a man go for HIV test, if the man is found negative
and the wife positive, the husband can send away the
woman, saying it is she who brought the disease.
- Achieve good life.
- Be able to educate my children.
- Have a good home.
- Have good future with well-educated children free from HIV/AIDS.
- Have better health and have enough food.
My Wish for Others Living with HIV/AIDS:
Go for HIV testing early to know your sero-status.
After testing, open up and disclose your results.
By disclosing you are reducing the further spread
of the disease. You also reduce the stigma—
you feel free and live a better life without any fear.
Practice positive living after accepting your situation.
Adhere to what is advised, like proper nutrition, treatment,
medical care, proper hygiene, change of behavior, to promote
Obtaining Good Care
I have been living with HIV for now close to 18 years. Life was not easy in the first days. The first time I was tested, my CD4 count was only 2. I was very weak and bedridden. Thank God for the support organisations like ChildFund under TASO, an APAC (AIDS Prevention and Control) program.
I’m on ARVS [anti-retrovirals] and Septrine prophylaxis. I believe the treatment has helped me to have a better quality of life. I picked up, and I’m now strong enough to cultivate and run my retail shop.
I have participated in several programs under ChildFund. I have become a community Psycho Social Support (PSS) volunteer, which has changed my view of life and of many other people in my village and subcounty.
PSS training has helped me in reducing stigma. I was equipped with counseling skills, which I use to counsel both children and adults.
ChildFund has supported me in my livelihoods. By participating with caregivers in group farming, I learned better farming methods and saving skills. I also receive moral support from group members — I am proud of this belonging.
Though my training in Early Childhood Development (ECD) tots program on nutrition, I started on hot [house] culture. Having a kitchen garden has improved on my nutritional status, which is one of the requirements of positive living. Hot culture also has provided Sukuma wiki [greens] and eggplants among others, which have fetched me good money that I have used to start up my retail shop.
Gaining Community Acceptance
Though living with HIV/AIDS, I’m confident to say I’m accepted by the community. I’m always invited to participate and attend meetings and trainings like any other people, regardless of my status. The community also buys items from my shop without any bias. They seek counseling from me on several occasions.
I, therefore, feel safe because people do not discriminate against me. I freely participate in all community activities as others, they seek advice from me. On visiting hospital, I’m attended to like any other person. I’m not discriminated like in the past. We all share equal rights — thanks to Psycho Social Support training conducted in this district by organisations like ChildFund.
Believing in the Right to a Healthy Life
I strongly believe that HIV prevention and treatment care and support are a critical part of human rights. HIV prevention reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS; therefore, people have a right to live healthy — free from any disease or circumstances that can expose them to the disease.
Those tested and found HIV-positive need treatment, care and support, which are all fundamental human rights.