Kibuye Project overview

AASU’s first community project is focusing on the village of Kibuye in North Eastern Kamuli, on the shores of the Victoria Nile. Kibuye has an estimated population of 60,000 people and is spread over 27 by 35km. The majority of the population is highly dependent on subsistence farming and barter trade within village in order to survive.

Before the project began, Kibuye was dependent upon one borehole for safe drinking water. Due to long lines when collecting water many have been choosing to fetch water from the river, which has caused illness through water born diseases. The village also only has one school, consisting of two classrooms accommodating roughly 600 children. The children that can’t walk the distance to the school simply don’t attend. The majority of children do not attend school, either due to distance or family circumstance, consequentially 80% of Ugandans over the age of 15 are illiterate.

So far within the Kibuye project AASU has been able to buy four acres of land at the East end of the village on which we have built a bore hole and are currently building classrooms for the Arise and Shine Nursery and Primary School which is due to open for the start of the school year in February 2011.

Friday, August 12, 2011

HIV/AIDS project

At the beginning of July, Sharon and I were talking about possibilities of different projects for the community outreach program. She came up with the idea to start a project about HIV and AIDS. At that moment I was so glad, something medical! Just what I like, because I am studying Technical Medicine. After a little conversation I was happy to prepare an outline of the project. We discussed the outline together and made a plan.
Laura, from the gender project, had a meeting with Fatumah (an AIESEC’er who worked for The Aids Support Organisation) about the possibility of gettig free condoms from TASO for the village. I told her about the HIV project and she suggested that i could come with her to TASO on the following day and talk about the project. After the meeting we were able to walk back to the house with 1000 free condoms; a good beginning of the project!
Marieke, after the glance at the gardening project, decided to join the HIV/AIDS project. She is studying Psychology and this was more useful for her. Together we embarked on the project with the first session in the Kibuye Village.
During the focus group discussion session, we talked about general information about HIV and AIDS. We asked the attendees about; HIV is, ways in which HIV is spread and its prevention. If they did not know the answers, we would give them more information. A lot of questions came up after that. One of the questions was from a guy who asked if one can get HIV from wearing an infected person’s shirt. For me that was one of the points backing up the importance of the project.
A Week later, we did a condom demonstration; a fun activity! After the demonstration we split the men and the women up so they could talk to separate people in line with their own gender groups. Men were really interested in the subject. Women were very open and laughed a lot, mostly because at a banana we used during the presentation. After the session every person got 9 free condoms. It was a good session despite the difficulty of the HIV/AIDS subject.
In response  to our suggestion, TASO decided to come to the village to test the people so that they could know their HIV status. On Sunday before the testing day, we had a session concerning details, how the test works. After the session we were advertising the testing day in the village so that everybody could know about it. We went to the church, to the different men centers in the villages, the school and the borehole putting up advertising sign about the testing day.
The 2nd of August was the big day: the testing day. TASO came with 14 people of the testing team, including counselors and lab technicians. There was also a drama group entertaining the people who were waiting for the test. All the volunteers from AASU were involved in it during this day.
They were doing the registration of all people, preparing and cooking lunch for 48 people, doing surveys and the guidance for the TASO people. During the day a lot of people showed up to have tested. At the end of the day we tested 204 people and only 6 people turned out to be HIV positive.

After the testing day we visited TASO in Jinja to speak to one of the counselors to ask a few questions to which we did not know the answers . What should we answer, when a woman ask, what she should do, when her husband does not want to use a condom during sexual intercourse? Or questions about polygamy. During the sessions women were asking about the female condom. It sounded like the female condom could be the solution to the problem if men did not want to use a men condom. The counselor told us, they had the same questions, to which it is hard to answer. The counselor was sure, that female condoms were too expensive for the people. We also visited one of the lab technicians, who guided us around TASO. In the morning he was taking blood from people to check their CD level. CD level is the amount of antibodies in your blood against HIV. When this level is under 250, people need to take antiretroviral treatment otherwise they take different kinds of antibiotics. I helped him by calling the names and doing the administration. After lunch he showed us a laboratory. A small and simple place, but with almost everything they needed.
In the meanwhile Sharon arranged an appointment with coordinator of TASO. After the appointment, she made a partnership between AASU and TASO. The partnership includes 3000 free condoms every month, testing twice a year and giving the HIV-positive people possibility to get free medication. 
The last session in the village was about positive living with HIV. How do you cope with a positive test result? Can you do things to improve your quality of life then? Unfortunately people were really late (2 hours delay is usual). Because of that we were not able to talk about all points of the session.
The important challenges AASU still has to face:
·         To provide HIV-positive people from the village with free transport to the Kamuli hospital
·         To get medication in the health centre
·         To make people aware of the importance of protecting themselves.

Hopefully we were able to imprint a mark in the village!

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