I overcame stigma and discrimination to excell;Sebastian Walega
Walega Sebastian (42 years) is a resident of Tirinyi Sub-County in Kibuku district. He is blessed with a wife and five children of whom four are still alive. He lost his first wife and all three children born between 1995 and 2002. By then he was not aware of what was killing his children.
After testing HIV positive in the year 2002, Walega who had severe cough stayed at home for almost a year without joining TASO. He was worried about how people will look at him in the village and as a result, he was taken to Kampala where he stayed with a relative as they treated TB but all was in vain until he returned home in Pallisa. While at home, he was encouraged by a community volunteer to join TASO.
He joined TASO in 2004 amidst high stigma and discrimination. Once he reached TASO, he was welcomed and given a counsellor who helped him cope with the stigma and fear that was in him. This facilitated him to take his wife for testing in a nearby facility where AIC was carrying out HIV testing. On receiving positive results for the wife, he brought her to TASO for care and support.
In 2004, he was initiated on ART and felt stronger, free from stigma and able to work on his small turkey project which has enabled him earn a living. He appreciates the work done by TASO for it enabled him return to his income generating activity.
As time went on in the year 2006-7, he was trained as a CASA and since then started counselling peers on ART with in his area. He visits them and encourages them to continue having hope in life regardless of their status.
When the family wished to have another baby, they were counselled and enrolled on the PMTCT programme which has enabled them have two HIV free and healthy children; Emma 4 years and Timothy 9 months. The family is very happy about the children because they had been very worried about that in the past. The mother says “these children came from far”
During the early days of joining TASO for care and support, the family received some food which enabled them save and have their turkey project running. Walega currently has 30 turkeys. Walega says this turkey project has enabled him do a number of things for his family;
- Paying fees and provision of scholastic materials for his children one of whom is in primary seven in a boarding school.
- Plastering his house.
- Bought two oxen which he uses to plough his gardens. These have helped him improve on food security in the home.
- Besides turkeys, he buys and sells cows and on average he earns 50,000/= a week from that business. All the activities combined enabled him to build a 2 door lock up at Tirinyi trading centre and of recent bought a 3 million piece of land in Tirinyi-kibuku district.Walega is now happier in life and more hopeful after joining TASO Mbale for care and support according to him many people disagree with him when he tells them he is HIV positive.
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