In a joint effort between the Harold Foster Foundation, and Uganda Partnership , we are working with a group of widows and children living with AIDS. The group met and helped us to understand what the difficulties are of being a widow in rural Uganda and also suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS. The issues that they raised included:
• Income - Its difficult to earn an income due to their weak bodies. They have difficulty working the backbreaking manual labor that is the source of income for most rural women. (Able women typically receive $0.60 – $1.20 for a full days work of turning soil with a hoe.) Doctors have also told them that they should not be doing this kind of work.
• Transportation - In order to access medical care they need to be able to pay for transport to the near by town where there are free HIV/AIDS clinics. Transportation can cost up to $3.00 each way. One trip a month to the doctor gets them medicine but costs them about a weeks worth of work, if they are even able to do this work.
• Health - Healthy Food, essential vitamins and mosquito nets – Doctors have told them that they need to be eating more vitamin rich food, more food and should be sleeping under mosquito nets. Most of these women do not have the strength to grow more and better food, they cannot pay for mosquito nets or vitamin supplements.
• Funds for emergency trips to the hospital – Women and children suffering from AIDS fall sick more often and more severely than other people but in Uganda, in addition to the cost of transportation, visiting the doctor and getting medicine costs money, money they normally do not have resulting in either debt or death.
Through our partner foundation, many of the adult members of this group received a pig each to raise. Half the money raised from the pig goes to support health projects for this group including food and emergency medical funds. The other half will supplement the income of these HIV+ women. In many cases however, these women and children still suffer from the effects of HIV/AIDS, putting in jeopardy their ability to continue with this progress. Together, we can ensure that they receive the nutrient supplements along with the other tools to build a healthy and sustainable living.