Wednesday, 10 November 2010

mengo hospital

Kisakye Anne Nazziwa at Mengo Hospital's AIDS Clinic
A week ago I was in the comforts of my own home. Contemplating my journey to Uganda. Now I am on African time.
Each day a new experience.
Twice now I have assisted at the AIDS clinic at Mengo Hospital. In triage. Intake. Today was children’s day. Not as busy as most. 
But everyday there is a need. The clinic generally sees between 150 to 200 patients a day. And it doesn’t stop I am told. Many line up as early as 6 a.m. to get their number before it opens an hour and a half later.
They come from afar. For medicine. For support. For treatment. Education. For the children - some love.
My job this morning was to weigh in the children and measure their height.
I was working with Kisakye Anne Nazziwa. Also HIV positive. A beautiful woman with very good English. She works everyday at the clinic. Everyday she is well that is. I asked her if she was married with children.
She told me because of ignorance, she found herself to be HIV positive in 1994. She’s been on the anti-viral drugs since 2005. Because of her diagnosis she said, she has chosen not to reproduce or get married. I asked her what her wish was for the Ugandan people today.
“My wish for the Ugandan people is to be. To have peace. To stop the war,” she said.
“If there is peace there is no sickness. The sickness will stop. When people are settled.”
Then I asked her what her wish was for the world.
She said, “To be civilized. To be educated. But without civilization you can’t put education to action.”
Then she asked me if I knew why people get HIV?
“Because,” she said, “Of lacking this civilization. They have not been counseled by how the virus attacks.”
Mid-way through the morning I was asked to take tea. As I walked to the lunchroom a young boy I’d met at the Saturday Club came running over to me and took my arm. I learned his name is David. Also HIV positive. Here for his medicine.
David followed me to the lunchroom where the staff offered me a banana and some kasana. It’s a root of some sort that looks like chicken but tastes almost like a French fry.
David sat down and ate too.
When I returned to help Anne we had an eighteen year-old mother, HIV positive with her infant to weigh in.
As she walked away I turned to Anne and asked her one final question.
“Do you have a dream?” I said.
“If I am well, I want to continue to assist people,” she replied. 
She told me she'd taken counseling courses and wanted to help also with counseling.
The medicine she said, is so we can produce a new generation. To get a free generation from HIV. We are fighting. We are in a struggle she adds.
"Don't cross-infect. But produce for the next generation," she states.
Here we have one person helping. The kind of help that spreads.
When one person helps, it helps the community. It helps the world.  

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