Happy New Year! This is a time for us all to refresh our lives and consider what is most important to us. As we enter 2014, we wanted to share with you a Story of Change about Bosco, who was also able to have a fresh start because of GWED-G. Please consider supporting our project and helping more men and women like Bosco be role models in their communities.
This is Bosco's story:
Bosco is a personal testimony to the impact of peer education. Before joining one of GWED-G's youth group, he recalls being very angry with his situation in the world. Now, he says he has hope to one day have a family where the priority is on health and education.
Bosco is the Secretary for the Palema Youth Group supported by GWED-G. Part of GlobeMed at Columbia’s HIV/AIDS prevention project involves engaging men in the fight against HIV/AIDS and targeting younger generations to adopt healthy behaviors early. As a member of the Palema Youth Group, Bosco acts as a “Positive Male Role Model,” advocating for healthy living through his actions. Instead of formal educational events, Bosco will start conversations with his peers during normal recreational activities and teach youth about safe sex practices and the consequences of gender-based violence that affect an entire community. The Palema Youth Group also has their own Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), where every month youth save a portion of their income in a village bank and gain interest on their savings. The group can loan money for members’ investments and provide emergency assistance to members in needs. In phase 3 of GlobeMed at Columbia’s project, the youth group will decide on a communally owned income-generating activity to supplement their VSLA savings.
Happy New Year!
Menaka and Nicole
As GlobeMed at Columbia continues our Individual Giving campaign this holiday season, we wanted to share with you another story of change about the impact that our project has had on individual lives in Gulu, Uganda. This story is Lucie's. As you read her story, please consider supporting our project so we can write more stories just as impactful as hers.
This is Lucie's story.
Lucie is an HIV positive single mother of four children. She is trained as a Human Rights Volunteer, Community Health Worker, and caretaker with GWED-G. As a Human Rights Volunteer, she holds sensitization events in her community about human rights and HIV/AIDS awareness, and as a Community Health Worker and caretaker, she makes regular visits to rural villages to educate people about their HIV/AIDS status and to make home visits and referrals to sick people in her community. Even though she has four children to take care of, she gives up time farming her own land to do all her work on a volunteer basis because she believes in making a difference in her community.
Before her involvement with GWED-G, she was not receiving treatment for her HIV/AIDS, and she was too weak to farm her land. Her neighbors started taking parts of her land away from her, saying she did not deserve to own land that she was not going to use. As a single mother of four children, she was unable to support her family and did not feel like she had enough authority in her community to fight for her right to property and health care. After attending a human rights education session organized by GWED-G in her community, she was connected with legal counsel that got her back her land and was referred to a local health center to receive treatment for her HIV/AIDS. She no longer believes her status as an HIV positive woman justifies her marginalization. Now, she is not only one of GWED-G’s most active volunteers, she is integral to all of GlobeMed at Columbia’s project objectives.
To our friends, family, and supporters,
To celebrate the beginning of GlobeMed at Columbia's Individual Giving campain, we asked our chapter members to write "This I believe" statements to share with their family and friends as they talk about what GlobeMed has meant to them. The responses were beautiful, with members saying "I believe that inaction towards global disparity is unacceptable," and "I believe that everyone deserves to achieve happiness." And we began to think about how GlobeMed's partnership with the Gulu Women's Economic Development and Globalization has influenced what we believe in. Some of the most meaningful lessons we have learned have come through the stories we have witnessed in our time at GlobeMed. And so this will be the theme of our Individual Giving campaign for the winter of 2013: the stories that shape what we believe. Every other week, we will share the story of an individual who has inspired us to believe in the work that GWED-G is doing. Our Individual Giving campaign is dedicated to these men and women. As you read these stories and consider the values and beliefs that have shaped your life, we hope you consider supporting our project during this holiday season.
Alice: age 29
At first, Alice didn’t know she was HIV positive, but she heard rumors in her village that her husband was infected. However, she ignored them because she didn’t want to take the issue seriously. When asked to get tested, Alice refused, afraid that she would have to take drugs. It was very difficult for her to believe that she might be positive. Even when she became pregnant at age 26, she decided again not to test herself.
Finally, a GWED-G campaign changed her mind. A few of Alice’s friends convinced her to attend a community sensitization session with them. As she listened to the program, she heard about other mothers who were able to have healthy babies, despite the fact that they were HIV positive. When she went home that night, she talked to her husband and told him that they needed to go to the hospital to get tested. Unfortunately, when the results came in, both her and her husband were diagnosed as HIV positive.
After realizing that she had the virus, Alice became incredibly stressed and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Feeling helpless and confused, Alice approached Grace, one of GWED-G’s Village Health workers and HIV caretakers, asking for help. Grace counseled Alice and visited her in her home. When Alice heard that GWED-G’s HIV program was looking to support HIV positive mothers, she said she was interested. After talking to her and her husband, GWED-G enrolled her in a program focused on prevention of mother to child trasmission of HIV.
Thanks to the services provided in the program, Alice delivered an HIV negative baby. She says that GWED-G’s intervention changed her life, because otherwise she would have just given birth at home with no antenatal care and her baby would most likely have been HIV positive. Because Alice shared the knowledge she learned from the sensitization with her husband, he chose to support her decision to become part of the program and even joined with her. When GWED-G gave the family bean seeds, her husband helped her farm the land and plant them. Currently, Alice has given birth to two healthy HIV negative boys.
This story inspired us to believe in the power of community action to create tangible change. If you believe in the power of this story as well, we hope you will consider supporting this project.
Nicole Dussault and Menaka Dhingra
Dear family and friends,
Summer is almost over and the GlobeMed at Columbia team is getting ready to start the new year! We have some exciting updates from GWED-G and are getting ready to unveil our new proejct for 2013-2014. We can't wait to start a new semester of fundraising and awareness campaigns, and we hope you will continue to follow our activities and support us as wonderfully as you have in the past.
Our Grassroots On Site Work team wrapped up their activities in Gulu, Uganda at the end of June and have spent the past few months preparing the media and stories collected from the field to share with you all. Look forward to stories from our beneficiaries and new photos documenting field activities, as well as some interviews of the HIV positive mothers in our groups and some of the GWED-G staff as well! The team also helped design the new project for this year, which we will share with you all in the beginning of September. In the meantime, here is a brief summary of GWED-G's activities from their quarterly report.
GWED-G's main goal for Maternal Health projects is to decrease the infant mortality rate, which has risen in the past years to 438 deaths per 100,000 live births. Despite the daunting challenges in achieving their target reduction, GWED-G has continued implementing awareness and treatment campaigns on the parish, community, and home level over the past few months. They have also continued their work with maternal health and family planning as well as ANC and PMTCT care.
A second strategy towards reducing the infant mortality rate that GWED-G has been using is engagement with local officials. GWED-G is working with District Health Officers and VHTs to ensure that health facilities and existing government health stuctures are being properly and fully utilized. They have also been advocating for educational campaigns for children, which will serve as a preventative measure against the spread of HIV/AIDS and will facilitate proper family planning.
GWED-G has also been trying their best to ensure that all the mothers our project is responsible for are receiving proper antenatal care. However, transportation to health centers is proving to be an issue for many of the women. Some of the women's husbands refuse to take them for treatment, and they cannot afford to hire a motorcycle taxi to take them. GWED-G will be working with GlobeMed in our new project to address issues such as these. On a brighter note, 30 of the mothers received safe birth kits which will allow them to have HIV negative babies.
The GROW team was able to see the VHTs' work while in Uganda, as well as distribute the incentives promised to them by our project. The VHTs received soap and sugar as well as bicycles while the GROW team was on site. They were also invited to a planning meeting where they were able to discuss training strategies as well as some of the challenges that they face in their daily work, such as transportation and lack of official materials to distribute to the community (i.e. informational pamphlets, flyers, etc.).
You can read about the rest of the activities conducted by GWED-G this quarter in the attached report, including blood screenings for HIV and GBV awareness and sensitization sessions. We will be revealing our new project within the next few weeks; we can't wait for you all to see what GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia have planned for the new year!
In the meantime, stay happy and healthy!
GlobeMed at Columbia
Over the past few months, GWED-G has been rolling out the various components of our project. As a refresher, there are four main areas that our project addresses:
Here are some of the highlights from the field!
Community sensitization on HIV/AIDS prevention:
In the community sensitization initiative, the main concern is to address the high prevalence of HIV infection in the community. Topics addressed include: HIV modes of transmission and different preventive strategies (such as Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, PMTCT), the benefits and importance of ante-natal care, family planning, early diagnosis of HIV, referral of infected persons for treatment, effective condom use, and adherence to treatment. During the interactive sessions GWED-G staff and community members discuss some of the main contributing factors to the high prevalence of HIV, such as poverty, alcoholism, and adultery. Awareness sessions are highly attended; in one session that focused on maternal and newborn health, over 67 women and youth participated. Blood screening mobilizations have also begun in order to test community members for HIV status.
Formation of a new women’s group in Giragira parish:
A new women’s group was formed in Giragira parish, Labongogali health centre III. Women are important targets for HIV services because they act as change agents to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the community. The formation of this new group will expand the program for PMTCT services to hard to reach villages. GWED-G also strengthened its collaboration with the local health center staff to ensure that mothers are referred for safe delivery at the heath facilities. Most babies in the women’s group were able to be delivered at the health center, which helps reduce the chances of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and also decreases the risk of maternal and infant death during childbirth. When the women in the group meet, they follow up on the HIV positive mothers, counsel and encourage each other to receive medical attention in the health centers, and discuss how to reduce Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in their communities. Another component of the women’s group is a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), which is a form of community based savings and investment. Women in the group also receive seeds as a form of income generation, which is an important factor in the health of the women and their families. The strength of this project is that it empowers women on many dimensions: health, as they connect to the health centers; economic, as they engage in income generation and savings programs; and personal, as they become role models in their communities.
Meeting with youth groups on VSLA and reproductive health programs:
Under the goal of working with youth groups (composed of men ages 18-35) to continue economic empowerment and HIV prevention, meeting were conducted in various parishes of Coke, Agwayugi and Palema in Lamogi Sub County. The activities began with the training of the youth on VSLA concepts and methodology to help in the selection, planning and management of income generating activities. Emphasis was laid on record keeping, savings, and credit skills. The youth also received vegetables seeds and were able to begin planting their crops. The aim was the enhancement of the livelihood capacities of the youth to enable them to meet their basic needs and thus be better advocates for the right to health amongst the youth in the communities. A total of 90 youths participated in promoting reproductive health education, such as condoms use, and offering free counseling services to fellow youth. All these activities were aimed at promoting a sustainable system of HIV prevention within the communities.
Support to health facilities with hospital equipment
Under the objective of supporting health facilities with hospital equipment, GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia donated safe birth kits and baby breathing kits to Kaladima health centre III. The equipment improved the work of the health staff at the health center by providing them with protective gear such as gloves, gowns, and forceps, and baby breathing equipment that provides oxygen during difficult medical conditions encountered at the time of delivery, such as asphyxia, which can case neonatal mortality. Since health centers often lack basic supplies, expecting mothers are usually responsible for providing materials for their own deliveries. By providing safe birth kits, GWED-G enables these mothers to give birth in a health facility. Furthermore, 30 children under the program benefited from a nutritional food supplement of bovine colostrum. During the distributions, a community education session on the benefits of proper nutrition was conducted.
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