When I joined ROM Family, I knew I was not alone: A story of a former OVC, now full-time staff at ROM.
“I am pleased to share with you about my life-A life built by Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM). I happily and generously express my deepest gratitude to the services rendered to me by ROM family, for with them I have yielded good fruits of life through the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program. In 2007, I was in Primary Six at St. Kizito Primary School Bugolobi when tragedy befell my family; death robbed us of my father- the most precious gift our family had ever had. I was terribly heart-broken as his passing did not come easily. My mom struggled to bring me back to life but deep inside her she knew how empty I felt and that it required a lot for me to get back to normal. I am I now fully recovered? Of course, no, but feeling far better than before. Amen to that!
Mid-June 2009, life drastically changed; my mother could no longer afford to cater for the family and finding school fees was next to impossible. To my surprise, I saw my mother swallow tablets on a daily basis, but I never knew why.
One day, she made the most important decision in my life-disclosing to me that she was HIV positive. It was heartbreaking moment as life was never the same again!
Nevertheless, a few days later, she brought me to ROM where I was tested for HIV and the result was positive. It was my first time to experience professional counselling; the counselor took time to convince me that life could still be normal as long as I was willing to adjust to open a new chapter in my life. With that piece of advice, I laboured to adhere to treatment and also joined ROM Family as a client. This made me appreciate that I wasn’t the only fish in the pond- there were many other younger and older people living a positive life. With time, I learned a lot from them. Of course, starting a new of life of taking medicine on a daily basis was not easy, but I later realized that for everything to work out, all I needed was a positive attitude.
Therefore, I made up my mind and joined ROM programs for Young People Living with HIV. I picked interest in the Friend’s Forum-a monthly weekend program through which young people engage in friendly activities such as games, counselling sessions and much more for peer support. During our meetings, I learnt so much from my peers, mastered the dos and don’ts of the Anti Retroviral Therapy such as adherence and these helped me appreciate life.
It was very exciting representing my peers at radio talk shows, camps and sport galas and retreats because I was able to share with the world what was important to know about the lives of young people living with HIV.
In 2010, I was in Senior two but paying school fees was a challenge. This is when ROM came to my rescue and enrolled me for school fees support under the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Program. Since then, I have never looked back.
I am so grateful that with the psychological, emotional and financial support I received from ROM, I was able to complete secondary school and acquired both Ordinary and Advanced Certificates of Education and a Diploma in Counselling.
ROM also offered me space to do my internship, volunteered in the registry section and offered me short time contracts in the M&E department where I have gained numerous skills.
Currently, I am the Front Desk Assistant at ROM, supporting work in the Communication Section and Executive Director’s Office.
I am so glad I got this sponsorship, for without it, life would be hell. Thank you ROM and big up to everyone who has challenged me to be a better person.”
The writer is a Front Desk Assistant at ROM, with interest in research