July 6th, Austin

We made our way through the traffic of Kampala, and over to the Matugga home. Chris and I left the guest house early to drive to Mulago to pick up Hepatitis vaccines for the children at Matugga and at Gateway. Various sources in the global health literature cite Hepatitis B prevalence in Uganda at about 10%. It is particularly high in Northern Uganda, specifically Karamoja. Peace, one of the head mentors at Amahoro suggested we do Hepatitis B vaccines for the kids, and we decided it was something worth doing. We are working with a Ugandan doctor, Justine Mpanga, who will help us administer the second and third doses of the vaccine. When we arrived at Matugga, we began to set up our medical clinic. Soon we were seeing patients and administering vaccinations.

Two friends of mine from YCHCI, Josephine and Livingstone, helped to run the HIV testing and counseling and also worked as translators. It was great to have their help, and I believe that having someone that is trained in HIV counseling, and who speaks their native language was a major improvement for our HIV testing process. We also had rapid diagnostic tests for Malaria, which was a major improvement for our clinics. We saw a variety of patients and all of the doctors, therapists, nurse and students in the group were busy making the clinic go smoothly. Just before lunch, a music and drama group from The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) arrived at the home. TASO is the largest organization working against HIV/AIDS in Uganda. They have branches all over Uganda, and their branch in Kampala is called TASO Mulago. They provide various medical services, and also focus on health education. Most TASO branches, including TASO Mulago, have music and drama groups made up of people living with HIV/AIDS and they travel to communities to educate others about HIV/AIDS and how to combat this disease.

I had the pleasure of working with the TASO music group two years ago when I was doing research with the School for International Training. The group performs songs with health messages in Luganda and English, and they do drumming and dancing, as well as testimonies were a group member shares their story of acquiring HIV and how they are doing now. Gertrude, who became a friend of mine when I worked with the music group two years ago, shared her testimony and it was powerful. It was a sad story, but it became triumphant when she told us that she has two children who are HIV negative, and that they are at the top of their class. The music group also performed a skit which taught about the importance of disclosing your HIV status to your partners. The children and community members excited and entertained, and I think they learned a good bit too!

After TASO finished, we did the end of our medical clinic. As always, the end of the day came sooner than we wanted it to, but we rode back to Kampala knowing that we had provided a valuable service for the children and the community.

 

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