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