Project #9326

Promoting Gender Equity & HIV Prevention in Uganda

by GlobeMed at Columbia University
GWED-G Beneficiaries
GWED-G Beneficiaries

Dear family, friends, and supporters,

We hope this message finds you well and enjoying the beginning of fall. We would like to thank you for all your support so far this year and hope that you continue supporting our cause in the future. With the beginning of a new academic year Globemed at Columbia has added around 15 new members to our chapter and strengthened ties between members who have already been with us. For this semester the chapter has many events planned including the bi-annual gala, the Hilltop conference, and many other events to help fundraise. We will end this calendar with an Individual Giving Campaign, where we hope to raise funds for our hard-working partner organization, GWED-G. We are thrilled to share some recent updates from GWED-G below.

Preventive activities conducted through sensitization campaigns and community level education are some of the most important aspects of the GWED-G and Globemed at Columbia partnership. These activities target families in 8 parishes of the Gulu district and include voluntary HIV counseling and testing, community sensitization programs and dialogue meetings with men that increase their knowledge on protection against HIV and their role in promoting maternal and child health.  In the past quarter 504 people were tested for HIV as a part of the voluntary HIV counseling and testing program, which aims to ensure easy accessibility of health services to communities, encourage people to know their HIV status, create strong relationships between health workers and communities to improve referral mechanism and follow up on clients with poor adherence to treatment.

In our fight to eliminate mother to child HIV transmission and the stigma of being HIV positive GWED-G has continued conducting sensitization sessions, where it disseminates appropriate information about HIV and reproductive health in the low resource communities. Recently, ante and postnatal care along with referrals for further medical attention were also incorporated into these sessions. GWED-G managed to reach out to over 640 people through their sensitization program. Additionally GWED-G has also conducted community dialogue meetings for men and women. In 4 interactive learning sessions pressing problems such as the high increase of GBV (gender based violence), which often correlates with HIV infection, were addressed. The topics discussed helped in addressing the causes of GBV in relation to HIV/AIDS within the communities. It also helped the communities understand that reporting cases of GBV is one of the ways in responding to and preventing GBV cases from happening in the future. 

In the last few months GWED-G has also added some new initiatives to the project including nutrition counselling and cervical cancer screening for women in adaptation to the needs of the communities it serves. Based on a malnutrition assessment done in the second quarter by trained VHTs, the results suggested a need for nutrition support in some families. As a result GWED-G conducted a dialogue session that educated mothers on the best choice of food for their growing children. In the course of this quarter, GWED–G also conducted cancer screenings resulting in a total of 207 women being screened. Due to this initiative one women was detected to show early signs of cervical cancer and was able to be referred for appropriate treatment and timely intervention.

The GWED-G and Globemed at Columbia partnership remains strong, but there is still a long way to go for the project, so we hope for your continuing support in making the people of Northern Uganda able to fully exercise their right to health. Visit our page at GlobalGiving and our Wordpress for more information about our project. To learn more about our experience in Uganda, please check out this grassroots change video we made for GWED-G and our GROW 2015 blog.

In solidarity,

Globemed at Columbia

To our friends, benefactors, and supporters:

Apwoyo Matek!

Apwoyo Matek (pronounced uh-foy-oh ma-teck) means "thank you very much” as well as “you’re most welcome” in Acholi, the local language of Northern Uganda. For five weeks, the grassroots onsite work (GROW) team was working in Gulu, Uganda with our partner organization Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G). As we traveled to rural villages and health centers, everyone that we met—from the district chairperson to HIV+ mothers—greeted us with this spirit of warmth and kindness. HIV+ mothers enrolled in the Mama Club expressed gratitude for our mama kit program; the mama kits that we bring each year are donated by Delivering Hope and contain all the items necessary to deliver a baby safely in the absence of a hospital. Women who receive mama kits, we found, are also better equipped to be treated at health centers, where medical supplies are often in short supply. Thanks to our partnership with health center staff, expectant mothers in the Mama Club receive antenatal care and support with living with HIV. Importantly, for those enrolled in the program, the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission is significantly reduced.

In addition to directly working with HIV+ women and strengthening the capacity of health center staff, our project also empowers village health team members (VHTs) and HIV+ caregivers. VHTs mobilize their community for a variety of health services; caregivers are elder HIV+ women who focus on counseling newly-diagnosed HIV+ women. Both are elected, voluntary positions that we promote by hosting trainings and providing compensation in the form of soap and salt. For many of the HIV+ women that we talked to, a caregiver or VHT was the one who provided the most meaningful source of support and comfort in the midst of community stigmatization.

Based on the feedback that we collected from the community, we hope to improve and expand our project even further. Almost every woman we talked to asked for either seeds to plant crops, goats to generate income, or money for school fees. In the next year, expanding the income-generating component of our project will be our top priority. Our goal is to economically empower 200 HIV+ women by sponsoring four community gardens with seeds and microfinance trainings. And, after the success of our pilot male peer education group in Coke parish, we are excited to officially launch our male role model program. Two men from each village that we work with will be selected and trained on gender-based violence prevention and HIV/AIDS prevention. We will also continue to strengthen the capacity of health workers, VHTs, and caregivers by continuing to host trainings and workshops. Now that the Ugandan Ministry of Health is releasing a new guidebook, we will host a conference on the new set of guidelines in 2016.

Much remains to be done and, to accomplish all of this, we need your help. Thanks to your support we have witnessed a measurable impact in the lives of HIV+ women. Last year, with the help of VHTs, health center staff, and local leaders, 8 gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS awareness sessions were held in 8 parishes of Amuru with more than 300 people attending. Next year, we hope to improve the effectiveness, attendance, and scope of these sessions even more. Visit our page at GlobalGiving and our Wordpress for more information about our project. To learn more about our experience in Uganda, please check out this grassroots change video we made for GWED-G and our GROW 2015 blog. With your continued support, we hope to integrate the needs and stories of the women we met into impactful change.

Mothers with mama kits, donated by Delivering Hope
Mothers with mama kits, donated by Delivering Hope

Hello family, friends, and supporters!

We hope this message finds you enjoying the first few days of spring. We want to thank you all for your support so far this year. So far, 2015 has been great for GlobeMed at Columbia as we have added around 12 new members to our chapter, and strengthened ties between members who have already been with us. As a chapter, we have sent members to our national global health conference in Evanston, Illinois, hosted our bi-annual Gala, and put together many events that both raise awareness about our project and help fundraise for our project on campus. We are thrilled to share recent updates from GWED-G below.

First, we are excited to highlight that GWED-G’s work regarding youth, mama kits, and GlobeMed’s project was featured in the Daily Monitor, a national Ugandan newspaper. Pamela Angwech, GWED-G’s founder and leader, was recently awarded for her work with women’s rights. Additionally, GWED-G, as a leader in movements for gender equality and women’s empowerment, has been involved in a number of collaborations – with several organizations for international women’s day on March 8th, with the French embassy, with the UN, with Mount Sinai in New York, US on their global health curriculum, and with Straight Talk Foundation on developing youth IEC (Information Education and Communication) materials. This outreach and collaboration is very exciting to hear about, as it means that more people than ever are hearing about all that GWED-G does.

As for what GWED-G has been working on specifically, we’d like to relay to you a few important updates. As always, these updates deal with integrating different facets - 146 people were tested for HIV/AIDS through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), 35 pregnant mothers received antenatal testing, 20 mothers benefitted from family planning outreaches, 18 babies were immunized, and 215 community members were involved in discussions on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS through awareness sensitization campaigns. Following up since our last message, mapping of the beneficiaries for this year has been concluded. More mothers have been included in our project - in Coke, we now have 87 HIV-positive mothers, as is true with two other groups, and our original Palema group has 300- all exceeding our capacity set at 50 mothers per group. While there are limits to the number of mothers we can fully accommodate, we can still overcome those limits through your kind donations. Additionally, we have been reaching out to our secondary beneficiaries through awareness and sensitization campaigns and working to continue education to prevent reinfection for the babies.

A new facet of our project which was recently implemented, the Gender Based Violence initiative, has taken off and we are focusing on bringing awareness of gender based violence to women living with HIV and their spouses, including the youths. This is so crucial not only because in itself, gender based violence is shocking, and deeply harmful, but also because it can have dire consequences in terms of physical, mental, and emotional health. In fact, women who experience gender based violence are three times more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, HIV, or another sexually transmitted disease than those that do not.

More about our collaboration with Straight Talk Foundation: their trainings are for officers working around reproductive health rights and aim to strengthen audience participation during sensitization sessions. Some suggested methods are to make the participant have room to talk, consistently review current methods of outreach, and expose the participants to new knowledge while they are in groups- to have a two sided conversation. As always, HIV/AIDS is a sensitive issue and it’s not enough to focus solely on one person; it is important to involve the family/relatives as well, which GWED-G does, and to cater towards each respective participant age group.

As you can see, both GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia finished 2014 strong! We are grateful for your support in 2015 so far and would like to celebrate the successes we have achieved together. However, we still have a long way to go until the people of northern Uganda fully exercise their right to health. We ask for your contribution to and continued support for GlobeMed at Columbia’s project. Feel free to visit our GlobalGiving page, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Facebook pages or follow us on Twitter.

In solidarity,

GlobeMed at Columbia


Ox/ox plough that are now being used by Coke youth
Ox/ox plough that are now being used by Coke youth

Hello family, friends, and supporters!

We hope this message finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying the new year. Thank you for your support in 2014. The final quarter was highly successful for GlobeMed at Columbia because we hosted Ms. Pamela Angwech, the director of GWED-G, during which members strengthened personal connections with the inspirational figure who brings GWED-G to life, and the annual global health HillTop conference that drew over a hundred college students and alumni from across the nation; we also held several awareness events and fundraisers, including collaborations with other student groups promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. We have two new co-presidents, Jayati Verma and Mariko Kanai, who will be leading the staff in 2015. We are thrilled to share recent updates from GWED-G below.

To promote maternal and newborn health as well as increased knowledge and awareness on HIV/AIDS, GWED-G staff engaged in follow-up initiatives of HIV-positive mothers and outreach efforts towards adolescent girls of reproductive age. 200 HIV-positive mothers carrying newborns were visited to monitor the progress of drug adherence, offer counseling and referrals when necessary, and to scale-up option B+, which could bring down the mother to child transmission (MTCT) rate from 30% to 2%. Follow-ups also played an important role in locating new HIV-positive mothers to be enrolled on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) immediately, thereby reducing HIV/AIDs-related deaths among women. Furthermore, mobile clinic outreaches helped adolescent girls access family planning services and mothers understand that their 15 and younger HIV-positive children must be put on drugs. With these combined efforts, over 65,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have been enrolled in treatment.  

Furthermore, 74 new mothers have been enrolled in phase V of the HIV/AIDS mothers’ program. Of the 202 strong women from phase I – IV, several women’s groups have been receiving training in Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) and modern agricultural practices that have proved successful; women saw a fourfold increase in their yield. In addition, the mothers’ overall nutrition level has increased due to the proteinous food that their vegetable and sim sim crops allow them to purchase. As part of the workplan drafted in June 2014, phase III and IV mothers are now being supported with bean seeds to support their livelihood and overall nutritional health. Similarly, Village Health Team (VHT) workers are now receiving training for VSLA, along with Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

In regards to the livelihood of the youth beneficiaries, follow-up was conducted on the youth groups supported by the seed and ox distribution projects. Over fifty such groups have been monitored based on their progress in small farming business expansion, youth agricultural work preparedness, and household income generation.  One Coke parish youth group has been benefitting specifically from both the seeds and the oxen and ox plough that the GROW Team distributed in June 2014. With the income generated from the cabbage and tomato crops and the land opened with the oxen and ox plough, the youth bought and planted 2 hectares of rice, respectively. Furthermore, GWED-G strengthened the cycle of self-sustainability by training the groups in technical areas of investment and large-scale quality production for a hopefully stable future income flow.

Not only have the youths been strengthening their households’ livelihoods and nutrition, but they have also been utilizing their youth group structures to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health rights. In another Coke youth group, GWED-G-trained members learned to build trust with their communities and to increase the number of mothers receiving antenatal care (ANC), through community dialogue meetings that stressed the importance of skilled personnel delivery and encouraged youth to bring women to health facilities. Similarly, the newly added initiative in June 2014- the thirty male role models in Coke and Agwayugi parishes- have also been successfully addressing issues of GBV integral to the discussion of HIV/AIDS, while also recruiting their wives into the outreach efforts.

As you can see, both GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia finished 2014 strong! We are grateful for your support in 2014 and would like to celebrate the successes we have achieved together. However, we still have a long way to go until the people of northern Uganda fully exercise their right to health. We ask for your contribution to and continued support for GlobeMed at Columbia’s project. Feel free to visit our GlobalGiving page, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Facebook pages or follow us on Twitter.

Happy (belated) New Year!

In solidarity,

GlobeMed at Columbia

HIV+ Mothers conducting their weekly VSLA Session
HIV+ Mothers conducting their weekly VSLA Session
A community woman receives counseling from GWED-G
A community woman receives counseling from GWED-G

Since our last project report in July, GlobeMed at Columbia and GWED-G have begun implementing the new phases of our project aimed at promoting gender equality and HIV prevention in Gulu, Uganda. While our overall objectives do remain the same as before, we are hoping to expand some of our current strategies and would therefore like to take this opportunity to remind our donors of these objectives and how we hope to achieve them. Through our collaboration with GWED-G, we aim to increase the Ugandan community’s knowledge on how to prevent HIV/AIDs transmission; we aim to strengthen community health networks through capacity building and training programs; and we aim to promote maternal and newborn health.  Currently, Uganda suffers from one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. Moreover, 20.4% of the disease burden is felt by Ugandan women and children. Considering that only 26% of women have access to post-natal delivery, only 11.7% of women deliver in fully functional emergency care facilities, and the physician-to-population ratio is 1:10,000, this statistic is not surprising. Due to the prevalence of HIV infection in Uganda and the disproportionate burden faced by its women and children, powerful advocacy and prevention efforts are required. Our aim is to strengthen our partnership with GWED-G over the next year and work collaboratively and rigorously with them to implement our project strategies within the Ugandan community. Our hopes for the community are ambitious, but we are confident that we can affect change in the right direction with your generosity and support.

A particular strategy to promote maternal health that we would like to expand upon in the coming months is the focus on eliminating gender-based violence. The story of Aida brings to light the reason for this decision. Soon after her first meeting with her husband, Aida asked him to use protection during sexual activity. Upon hearing her request, he engaged in violence, threatened her, and did not agree to use protection. Over the years, each time she became pregnant, he forced her to give birth at home and threatened to kick her out of her home if she tried to go to a healthcare facility. When GWED-G health staff came to Aida’s home and tested her for HIV, she learned that she was HIV-positive. GWED-G was able to convince her to bring two of her children, who were often falling sick, to a community health center to get tested for HIV, as well. Aida learned that both of her children were HIV-positive, and when she returned home and shared this with her husband, he beat her and kicked her out of the house. When GWED-G found Aida after this event, she was hopeless and in despair, planning to commit suicide.  However, while Aida’s story thus far is extremely painful, GWED-G was able to help turn Aida’s life around.

GWED-G offered Aida counseling and assistance from the Village Health Team, and she became apart of regular GWED-G meetings, where she interacted with other women in the community. Aida is now a leader for some of GWED-G’s maternal health groups, such as the group of women who benefited from mama kits and those who benefited from income-generating projects, such as the provision of seeds. Aida’s story teaches us how male violence can traumatize the lives of women in Gulu. Aida, as a target of gender-based violence, not only acquired HIV, but was prevented from seeking any sort of medical care and was emotionally stigmatized throughout the course of her illness. Through GWED-G’s interventions, Aida was able to seek the resources and support she needed to once again live her life. Her story is a testament to the importance and expansion of projects aimed at reducing gender-based violence in Gulu.

GlobeMed at Columbia, in partnership with GWED-G, is therefore hoping to increase the involvement of males in the community in our programs. We have seen the success of Male Role Model groups in other GWED-G projects, whose members frequently stage dramas for their community in order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and provide examples for other men on how to properly treat women with the disease. For Phase V of our project, we are looking to implement a similar Male Role Models group within Coke and Agwayugi parishes, to increase male involvement in the promotion of women’s rights and community health. We hope that Aida’s story was as moving for you as it was for us. We appreciate your support as we try to extend the reach of our project to more victims of gender-based violence in Uganda. 

GROW Team members talk with a male role model
GROW Team members talk with a male role model

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Organization Information

GlobeMed at Columbia University

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Ricardo de Luca e Tuma
New York, NY United States
$70,279 raised of $80,000 goal
716 donations
$9,721 to go
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