When 20-year-old Namara Vivian was a child, she never smiled.
Born HIV-positive, Vivian also lost her father when she was young.
“I didn’t want anyone to talk to me, because I thought I was alone,” she said.
So her grandmother started caring for the young Vivian and her mother, eventually taking them to Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative to receive their antiretroviral drugs. The NGO also started paying school fees for the girl and her siblings, and when Vivian was an adolescent, she completed a ROM vocational training in hairdressing. Now, the young woman has a job as a hairdresser.
“Reach Out is the reason I can smile right now,” Vivian said. “At Reach Out, when they came to visit me in the hospital, they told me ‘you’re not alone – we’re all in this together.’”
“I’m an example for the little ones [who are HIV-positive]. They all say ‘I want to be like Vivian; she’s so happy, despite the positivity in her,’” she said.
Vivian shared her story on 14th November 2016 at the Reach Out site at Our Lady of Africa Church in Mbuya. Despite the rainy morning, applauding enthusiastically before her was a delegation from across the world: seven Chinese citizens representing the Chinese community living in Kampala, Uganda.
The Chinese visitors, part of the Zhejiang Chinese Association of Uganda and the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, had come to make a generous donation to Reach Out Mbuya: 10 million UGX to support orphans in school whose parents had died due to AIDS. About six orphans could be supported in one year of primary school with the Chinese donation.
The group had come across Reach Out Mbuya through a Ugandan friend, Simon Lokodo – who happens to be the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity in the Cabinet of Uganda. Lokodo is also a parishioner of Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Church, which, alongside Reach Out Mbuya, organized a 6-km charity run in honor of World AIDS Day this 3rd December. All proceeds from the run went toward sustaining HIV-affected orphans and vulnerable children in school.
Read more here on the Reach Out Mbuya Blog!