On the 7th of February ,2022, the AHAPPY team at Ocer Campion Jesuit College in collaboration with TASO (The Aids Support Organization in Uganda) and the Acholi chiefdom (kerkal kwaro) spearheaded African Jesuits AIDS Network (AJAN) mission by organizing a one-day symposium on HIV. The program targeted the youth who are out of school. Thus the symposium aimed at increasing their knowledge, creating awareness and identifying common problems on HIV/AIDs in order to assist the young people reduce their vulnerability.
The One-day Community Symposium was a culmination of various activities that included undertaking Sensitization, Voluntary Counselling and Testing. The sensitization and VCT was carried out by TASO. The event was opened by the remarks from our AHAPPY team. It was important to emphasize to them, why we called them for a symposium, our objective and goal as part of the AJAN Network. TASO had a team of four medical personnel led by Dr. Walter, Md. Catherine who is a nurse, and two medical laboratory assistants. They started by giving a brief introduction about the prevalence of HIV in the Northern Uganda. They pointed out that according to a research conducted in 2012, youth between the age of 15 and 25 are the most infected group with HIV. Moreover, among the infected youth, it was found out that, the number of the female youth is higher compared to the male.
The war against HIV cannot be fought alone, we need to collaborate with other members in the society in order to create an AIDS free world. TASO has been in this fight for about 20 years, they have the expertise and rich in experience. They deal mainly with; HIV Testing Services for the general population, Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision and Treatment and support services which are all in line with what AJAN strives to achieve. During the symposium they provided all the participants with these services respectively. The voluntary HIV testing services saw 21 youth made up of 11 male and 10 female attend and the results were all negative.
In this journey of combating HIV, The Acholi Chiefdom has played a great role for ages. They partner with different organizations helping them to deliver their services to grassroot level in the society. This time we partnered and worked together as they mobilized the youth from the streets and nearby villages.
There are many factors which drags behind the Northern part of Uganda in education provision. These are Poor parenting habits, Domestic violence, The HIV scourge, Civil strife in the North and North-eastern Uganda leading to displaced families, famine, and cattle rustling activities. These factors left some of the youth out of education system. Today AJAN via AHAPPY team has spotted them and ready to educate the young people on the existing vulnerabilities on HIV in order to rescue them from the effects of this disease.
The participants acknowledge the unique services they received, with generosity and a more simplified form. It was the first time to most of them and knowing their HIV status was a joy. However, their thirst for knowledge propelled them to ask for more events of the same. They believe in benefiting more and being ambassador. ie to protect and educate the rest.
Mr. Okello David commented that “ I am so impressed with the trainings that was offered to us because it is very helpful, at least we got to know things about HIV that we didn’t know, we request that this kind of training and testing be conducted often so that we are constantly reminded about the deadly virus.”
Ms. Adyero Mercy also commented “ I am very pleased to have been given this training, I did not know about a lot of things, I am willing to keep attending such profitable training.”
Our collaborators gave their remarks concerning the event. They are very happy and open to work with AJAN because we have similar goals, vision and mission. Our choice of the audience, services and commitment to this fight were highly commended. They argued the participants to always stay safe and abstain from sexual activities. This event marked the beginning of our collaboration and continuous consultation in this field.
We are grateful to have completed this task successfully for it is the major goal of our project in OCER. AJAN has played a greater role to facilitate this program, we are appreciative and looking forward to accomplish more objectives stated on our project.
By, Sch. Rovelt Msaki SJ
AHAPPY Assistant Coordinator & Teacher Ocer Campion Jesuit College