Former U.S Ambassador, Jimmy Kolker Graces Reach Out Mbuya PEPFAR @ 15 Celebrations

On Friday January 25th, 2019, Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative (ROM) hosted the Former U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Jimmy Kolker on a visit to the facility to get a first-hand account of the work done by the organization over the past 15 years since the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) program was introduced in the country that saw a Reach Out Mbuya Client being the first beneficiary of the lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).

Amb. Jimmy Kolker joins the Reach Out team in cutting the celebratory cake

The Chairman Board of Directors ROM, Fr. John Mungereza, Co-Founder (ROM), Dr. Margrethe Juncker, the Executive Director (ROM), Josephine N. Kaleebi were among the dignitaries present to welcome him.

The Chairman Board of Directors of ROM, Fr. John Mungereza applauded the work done by the U.S Government in its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the country; “if these good people were not there, humanity would perish,” he remarked, urging continued support for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Margrethe Juncker celebrated the success of the PEPFAR program that changed the lives of the patients who before PEPFAR had no hope to live;

“Before March 2004, we could only offer treatment for opportunistic infections which was not enough, the end result of HIV/AIDS was always sure – suffering, death, families losing their loved ones, and children being orphaned. However, in March 2004, help and hope for the infected presented itself in the form of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) donated through the PEPFAR initiative and the results were visible every passing day that the patients adhered to their drugs. Many that started the treatment with CD4 count less than 10 gradually improved and there was hope again for the future.  Fifteen years on, many are still alive to tell their stories.” she rejoiced.

Speaker after speaker commended the generous lifesaving gesture of the US government. The Executive Director Josephine Kaleebi promised that since positive living has been made possible, ROM is to embark on positive thinking for behavioral change and breaking up of poverty cycles.

Reach Out Members of the Board pose for a group picture with Amb. Jimmy Kolker

Ambassador Jimmy Kolker commended Uganda for the work done in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS despite the situation of the patients at the initial days of intervention. “We did not know what the response to the drugs would be but it turned out that people were better at adherence and more ready for those drugs than anyone in the United States was”, he stated.

Present at the function were; Dr. Andrew Kambugu, the Executive Director Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), Dr. Alice Namale, the In-charge Care and Treatment at the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the Board of Directors ROM, Staff, ROM clients, well-wishers and other invited guests.

To date, ROM has supported 14, 389 clients on ARVs donated through PEPFAR.

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