From Kaabong, to Washington DC, to Rural England - and Back
By Grace Loumo, Founder/Executive Director, AWARE, and Teddy Curran, Technical Director, AWARE, October 2012
Invitation to AIDS Conference in Washington DC
In July, AWARE founder Grace Loumo was invited to travel from Kaabong, in rural Uganda, to attend the The 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. Grace benefited greatly by sharing and learning from the different HIV/AIDS network groups around the world.
The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy-makers, persons living with HIV, and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.
The conference offered a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.
Grace, along with all attendees, learned of new scientific knowledge and was offered many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. A variety of session types – from abstract-driven presentations to symposia, bridging and plenary sessions – met the needs of various participants. Other activities, including the Global Village, satellite meetings, exhibitions, and affiliated independent events, contributed to an exceptional opportunity for professional development and networking.
Reunion with Safeworld in Rural England
Following the AIDS conference, Grace travelled to the UK and met with Chris Crowstaff, founder of The Safeworld International Foundation. They were joined by Teddy Curran, Technical Director of AWARE, and Chris's husband, Andrew Sampson, and Safeworld volunteers. Grace shared her experiences from the conference with everybody.
This was the second time that Grace had met with Chris and Andrew. In 2009, they visited AWARE Uganda in Kaabong, while researching women's grassroots groups on a field trip. So this was an exciting reunion.
Visit to Village School
Next there was a visit to the English village school that has recently partnered with the local school in Kaabong.
All Saints CE VC Primary School, and Tom Forrest, one of the pupils at the school. We were particularly impressed with the wind turbine. In Kaabong, electricity supply is a constant challenge.We were shown around by Annie Schaflheitle, deputy head of
We were presented with letters from the children for their new pen friends at Pajar Prmiary School in Uganda. There was also a donation of clothes for the children in Kaabong, from parents.
Our visit was covered by photojournalist Judy Nash for the Blackmore Vale Magazine.
Back in Uganda
The children of Kaabong were very excited to receive the sweaters from UK and thanked Grace for all the efforts.
They were also delighted to receive the replies from their new pen pals, and to learn more about life in rural England.
They enjoyed sharing their stories with the rest of the school.
Projects for Health, Education and Awareness
We continue to encourage the women of Kaabong to plant and nurture fruit trees in the orchard, and vegetables along the river, and also to plant other trees to protect and improve the environment.
Help for Pregnant Mothers in Critical Condition
It is not easy for pregnant mothers to reach the maternity centres, and the lack of transport can present life-threatening situations.
The government district health programme has stepped in to help with locating and transporting the pregnant mothers in critical condition from far away to reach areas close to the centre, and has supported AWARE's Maternity Waiting Centre.
Radio and Drama Increase HIV Awareness
Radio and drama shows on HIV/AIDs are a continued programme among the communities and daily at the centre through counseling youth, men and women.
Safe Biths for Mothers Living with HIV
The Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) section of the HIV/AIDS programme has helped at least 20 women with HIV to deliver healthy babies without HIV.
Legal Help and Access to Justice
More paralegals have been trained, to continue to assist in maintaining justice and seeking justice and collaborating with the government legal systems and departments.
The community paralegals act as watch dogs within the grassroots community, and in particular help women to access justice and learn about their rights.
Improving Attitudes Towards Education
The attitude of the community towards education has changed dramatically during the past few years, and has improved vastly.
However, high-rates of iliteracy amongst the community have continued to pose a big hindrance in accepting and in understanding development issues.
Keeping Children in School
The Early Child Development (ECD) Programme, a government programme within the Ministry of Education, has continued to support AWARE's Community Nursery and has helped many children remain retained in school and encouraged more children from the rural areas to come.
Homecare for People with Living with HIV/AIDs
AWARE facilitates homecare exchange visits for people living with HIV/AIDs – helping the women appreciate their roles as women living with HIV/AIDS and the benefits they receive from AWARE, with other organisations helping as well.
Visit from Funder to Review HIV/AIDs Programme
AWARE recieved a visitor, Emy, from the Hairou Commission - a global membership and partnership coalition that empowers grassroots women's organisations to enhance their community development practices and to exercise collective political power at the global level.
Emy came for a technical review on the HIV/AIDS programme and to strategize ways for fund raising to continue to help women at the grassroots level.
WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) programme has continued to support AWARE on promoting a healthy and safe environment for all, and clean water for all; AWARE members have carried out the programme to show and educate the public on the existence of the difference germs and bacteria in dirty water, and their causes.The
This helps members of the community to appreciate the training and relating it to the practical tests carried out by themselves.
Planning for HIV/AIDS World International Day - 1st December
Preparation and lobbying to celebrate awareness on HIV/AIDS World Day on the 1st December is going onm with spreading the word and asking for any well-wishers and sponsors to come forward and support the cause for that day.
Roads, Bridges and Transport - A Major Challenge
The rains destroyed most of the roads and bridges, making the roads impassible. The bridges towards Kapedo - a neighbouring town, have broken and these cause delays in implementation of the projects. We are still waiting for the government promise to repair and build good roads.
In addition, AWARE's Toyota pickup [truck] is in worse condition, and now we have to hire other vehicles to travel to and from the projects; hence, hiring other means of transport is costly to do implementation works in the region.
Food Security and Climate Change
We continued with local-to-local dialogue among the community on the impact of climate change on food security, which is a major issue in the region.