Uganda - Seeta Nazigo AIDS Project (SNAP)

The Seeta Nazigo AIDS Project (SNAP) was set up late in 2005.  We recently received charitable status in the UK.  What follows is a description of the project, its aims and objectives, written by Richard Griffiths, who heads up the project in the UK.

HIV/AIDS in Uganda

HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed in Uganda in 1982.  The Ministry of Health calculates that at least 920,000 of the population of about 23 million (4%) are HIV positive.  This compares with around 65,000 people out of about 60 million (0.001% or one in a thousand) in the UK.  In the UK about 7,000 new cases are currently reported annually.  In Uganda the incidence is about 70,000 per year (25 times the UK rate).  Due to a vigorous government campaign, the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Uganda has fallen.  However, there are recent indications that it may have begun to rise again.

Women form the majority of those who are HIV positive.

The Ugandan statistics are bound to be approximate.  Only 20% of the population has access to medical care and it is only these people who are tested for HIV/AIDS.

Although patients usually have to pay for their medicines in Uganda, antiretroviral drugs are available free of charge.  These medicines are the only effective treatment for HIV/AIDS.  They extend the lives of those taking them by about ten years.

Seeta Nazigo

Seeta Nazigo is a small town north of Lake Victoria.  It is reached by a twenty minute drive along dirt tracks from the provincial capital, Mukono.  Mukono is about forty minutes east of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  Although the distance from Kampala is not great, the difference is enormous – you could be in a different world.

The whole area is very fertile.  There are numerous small villages, groups of homes and more isolated dwellings around Seeta Nazigo itself.  But the area is characterised by great poverty.  There are few jobs and most of the people are entirely dependant on the food that they can grow on their own land.  There is no electricity, and water has to be collected from springs and carried in 20 litre jerry cans to the homes where it is used.  Hardly anybody owns a car or motorcycle although they are available for hire.

 

 

HIV/AIDS in the Seeta Nazigo area

In November 2005 I and my wife Sue visited many families where at least one member was HIV positive.  We met many single mothers who had usually been infected by their husbands. Many were widowed, others abandoned and left with one or more children born HIV positive.  Some of these single mothers were also caring for nephews and nieces or other relatives whose parents had died of AIDS.  Some of them were caring for ten or more children.

Even when they are able to get antiretroviral drugs, HIV has left these women very weak.  Most are unable to work their land to grow basic food.  Many also suffer from Tuberculosis and are very vulnerable to other diseases like malaria because of their lowered immunity.

The number of families we saw suggested to us that in this area the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is higher than the government figure of 4%.

The nearest place where these people can get antiretroviral drugs is the main hospital in Kampala.  Patients can receive a month’s supply at a time free of charge.  We asked every HIV positive person we met whether it was difficult for them to obtain these drugs.  In almost every case we were told that affording the transport into Kampala was almost impossible.  Quite often people missed a month’s supply, which seriously affected their health.  Occasionally, they would make the journey into Kampala only to find that the drugs were not available at the hospital.

Zion Church

This is an independent Pentecostal Church led by Pastor David Musoke.  He has planted five other churches in the surrounding villages, together with seven other cell groups that should, in due course, become fully-fledged churches.  David retains oversight over all these churches and cells.  About ten years ago he began to find ways of supporting families affected by HIV/AIDS. When I visited Seeta Nazigo in November, 2005 his aim was to establish the following:

• A salaried social worker to support families where at least one member is HIV positive
• A staffed medical centre in Seeta Nazigo for the distribution of antiretroviral and other drugs free of charge
• A new church building to be known as “The Zion Church Community Centre” which will house the medical centre and provide a school for up to 100 AIDS orphans

He already has records of about 200 families where at least one member (usually the mother) is HIV positive.  He knows of about 600 others in the villages where he oversees churches or cells.  In most of these villages he has set up small committees to oversee the support of affected families.  There is a steering committee which oversees the whole project. 

In addition to the regular Sunday ministry and wider pastoral work of Zion Church and the village groups, the HIV/AIDS project is now a very significant part of the church’s outreach into the community. 

The Seeta Nazigo AIDS Project [SNAP]

The project has its origins in the church at Seeta Nazigo sponsoring ten AIDS orphans through school.  When I visited Zion Church in June 2003, the foundations for the new building were being dug.  Two years later, some progress had been made in laying concrete in the foundation trenches.  The reason for such slow progress is the poverty of the people.  If their long term aims are going to be fulfilled they will have to obtain funding from elsewhere.  It is with this in mind that this appeal is being launched in the UK.

The Ugandan steering committee has prioritised the work that needs to be done. 

Because the villages are quite widely scattered a small motor cycle has been bought for project use.  This will save hire charges and will make it much easier for David Musoke and others to visit families.

A full time social worker, Ronet Nakirunda is now employed by the project.  Her work includes gathering information about families in the villages covered by the project where at least one member id HIV+; co-ordinating local support for these families; counselling people who are HIV+, and providing advice and education on matters of sexuality and sexual health.  Ronet’s salary, £600.00 a year, is provided out of project funds.

A dispensary at Seeta Nazigo would make a huge difference to people who cannot afford transport into Kampala to get their antiretroviral drugs.  Ultimately, this will be housed in the new Zion church Community Centre building.  In the meantime, a suitable house has been found that will be rented and staff are being sought.  The rent and staff salaries will be met out of funds raised here in the UK.

Completion of the new church community centre building will provide a base for the continuing work.  Since funds have begun to be channelled to the project from the UK, work on the building has continued rapidly

These parts of the overall project will all be completed as the funds to do them become available. 

Links

The project is a local initiative, strongly supported by the members of Zion Church and the village churches planted from it.

We have the active support of David Kabiswa, the Uganda Director on the international AIDS charity, ACET (AIDS Care, Education & Training; www.acet-international.org  ACET has many years’ experience of AIDS in many countries of the world and David’s expertise and knowledge of Ugandan culture will be invaluable.  ACET has links with many other agencies which may be called on if needed.

We continue to work at developing other useful links to ensure that the project gets all the help and support that it can.

“Mama Sandra”

This photograph of Mama Sandra and her baby was taken in November, 2005.  She died of AIDS in January, 2006.

Because Mama Sandra was unwell, most of the caring for the children had become the responsibility of the grandparents. Her husband had already died of AIDS.

The picture below shows some of Sandra's children with their grandparents.

The Zion Church Community Centre Building

These pictures show the building progress made between November 2005 and April 2006.  

 

 

 

 

Pastor David Musoke riding his “boda-boda”.

Small motorcycles like this are the best way of travelling on the dirt tracks around Seeta Nazigo. This one, for project use, was bought in January, 2006 with funds raised in the UK.  It makes it easy for project staff to visit the villages covered by the project.

 

 

 

 

Latest pictures from David Musoke December 2009

The social worker's new office

Showing the finished office with her in it and a young lad, also it shows a detail of the flagged floor which they are very proud.  All built through money raised through phase 1 fundraising.

 

Information

We value everyone’s interest and prayers.  We can send you regular bulletins on the project’s progress by e-mail.  Simply send your request to office@stpancraschichester.org.uk

Donations

Gifts, however small or large are a tremendous help.  Every pound goes a long way in Uganda.  For instance, the full-time social worker’s salary is just £600.00 a year.  If you want to support a particular part of the project, earmarked gifts are very welcome.  There are currently three main activities that need day to day financial support:

       1. The social worker’s salary and expenses
       2. The medical centre’s rent and staff salaries
       3. The Community Centre building

Practical Involvement
Anyone would find a visit to Seeta Nazigo tremendously rewarding.  There are opportunities for people with specific skills who would like to give a few weeks or months of their time to help the project on the ground.  SNAP is not able to provide funding for the air-fare to Uganda, but accommodation and living expenses out there would be met.  If you feel that you have something to offer, do contact us.

 

 


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