Advantage Africa has been working with Obambo Community Action Group (OCAG) for many years to support 75 people from 25 of the most vulnerable local families. OCAG staff visit each home at least twice a month, and organise the families into self-help groups which meet weekly. They provide healthcare, nutritional advice (including growing food) emotional support, financial assistance and palliative care. Many of the beneficiary families include children who have lost both parents to AIDS leaving an elderly grandparent or an older child responsible for large numbers of orphaned children. In other homes parents, young people and children living with HIV are supported. Presently 10 of the beneficiaries are disabled people and 5 are elderly people living alone. The homes are usually in isolated locations, away from roads and other services such as clean water and electricity.
The three stories below illustrate some of the challenges and successes of this project
Odipo is a 63 year-old man who lives alone, since the recent death of his wife, in his simple home in Obambo. He is HIV positive and blind in both eyes. He used to work as a fisherman and fish trader on the shores of Lake Victoria about 20kms away, but is now unable to work. With no children or extended family to support him, he relies on the OCAG home based care project for psychological support, antiretroviral drugs and help in maintaining the nutritious diet to ensure they’re effective. Odipo is gradually regaining his health and confidence, and is now coming to terms with his blindness and HIV status.
Odongo is a 17 year-old boy who has Cerebral Palsy. He has both physical and learning disabilities. Odongo used to be cared for by his elderly grandmother, until a cooking accident caused a fire which burnt down their mud and thatch home. They were taken in by a neighbour but unfortunately Odongo’s grandmother died soon afterwards. Odongo and his neighbour are supported by the home based care project with food, counselling, practical advice and assistance to continue attending school.
Millicent was supported with home based care for 3 years, but is now looking after herself and helping others to overcome the same challenges that she did. When Millicent found out she was HIV positive her husband left and her family shunned her because of the stigma surrounding HIV, even though she was very sick. OCAG helped Millicent to start antiretroviral therapy and keep to the drug and diet regime. She soon gained strength and was then assisted by OCAG to start trading fish. Millicent developed a new determination to become independent. She cycled to the lake to buy fish at wholesale prices and bring them back to Obambo market to sell for a profit. Now 55, Millicent no longer needs help from OCAG. She has invested in a motorbike, continues to expand her small business and has become a prominent member of the community. Millicent is a shining example of how it's possible to ‘live positively’ with a little help and a great deal of hard work and commitment. She continues to challenge the cultural stigma of HIV & AIDS and is an inspiration to many others living with HIV In her community.