Uganda West: It’s my Birthday (and I’ll cry if I want to)

I’m going to keep this brief.

Today we ran a festival for 400 kids in Masindi, North Western Uganda, with an awesome team of 9 CWB coaches and 7 staff from TASO (The AIDS Support Organisation, Uganda).

226 people got tested for HIV (including me) and we had national anthems at the start of the final.

Not sure I can think of a better way to have spent my birthday!

I’ll just finish by sharing my experience of sitting in on the group counselling, that comes before the testing.

Here, the wonderful Aisha, in the grey polo shirt on the top photo, took the group through the facts about HIV and AIDS. Her warmth and kindness as she facilitated a discussion on how HIV spreads, on what we can do to prevent the spread of the virus, and the role testing and treatment can have in ending the epidemic was awe inspiring. I found myself very deeply moved, as this strong and confident woman connected to the young people in front of her, and empowered them to understand and in many cases choose to do the test (despite the fears that the pin-prick would be painful!). In fact, I may even have felt the pricking of tears in the corner of my eyes, hastily blinked away as I filled my form and joined the line to get the test myself.

All told, I’m confident that 400 students from Masindi has a blast today, playing mini cricket and rapid fire. And but more importantly, 226 people are certain of their status (if it matters, we all came back negative.)

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