Saturday, 13 November 2010

Uganda Wishes – Eye Talk

Take some rubbish and turn it into something useful. Empower an assortment of individuals by producing individual income generating projects. Protect the environment at the same time. And voila! You have the Post Test (HIV) Club at Mengo Hospital’s AIDS clinic.
They meet once a month. A few travel as much as an hour. All of them living with HIV. Some in fear. Others with rejection. Some in hiding.
I listened to their song, then their prayer. Then I said a prayer for hope.
The vision for the program is to help people know their status and to be responsible in their homes. To get a little money and learn to live positively and to prevent others from becoming infected. Then to go out to other communities and share their knowledge.

The first thing I saw as I walked in was two bags of straws. Then hands busy at work, weaving the straws.
I haven’t seen recycling depots in Uganda. I was told there are bottle depots. Glass bottles are about the only thing that get recycled. Everything else gets burned. The straws are collected at the bottle depots. (When you are given a soda in a restaurant or cafe you generally don’t get a glass. You get a straw.)
The straws are washed and sterilized and laid out to dry in the sun before being flattened for use in weaving.
The company Straw Bags finishes the product and sells them.

It thrilled me to bits to see the busyness of these men and women. They would later watch and learn how to make jam. Papaya, lemon and cinnamon. Afterward tomato sauce.
I was introduced. I could see joy in their eyes. They were working. I then asked them to tell me their wish for Uganda.
One woman wished in time, the research and medicine would find a cure for HIV/AIDS and they would be cured. Another wished as patients that they could save other people from getting the disease.
One other explained, “Before AIDS was bewitched. The disease is not bewitched anymore. It’s opened people’s eyes. It is real. It is not a bewitched disease anymore.”
I asked for their wish for the world. Two replied with similar answers. That the world would not stop helping with the drugs. Many are fearful they may not always have access to the drugs.
Martha, a Mengo staff person made sure I included her message.
“My wish is that Africa will get out of poverty and be a good country to live in!”
Another woman then asked to be heard. She said she was grateful for the drugs that would help them to live so they could raise their children.
I can see it in their eyes. If their eyes could talk, what would they say?
There is hope in Africa. 


Amy said...

Cool bags! If you look up "drinking straw" on Wikipedia the last sentence says:
"Waste straws in Uganda are collected from beer and soft drink depots, cleaned, and woven into mats for picnics and prayers or joined to form bags"
Found the site too, they are looking for international vendors, surely someone out there is interested!:

A Fresh Thinker said...

They are very sturdy and would take a lot of weight. Thanks for the Wikipedia insight!