Since 2001, the Stay Alive Program has been introduced in fifteen different African countries to over 2,000,000 African children and their families. Within Kenya alone, over 400,000 children and their families have received the program. The program is taught within schools, community organizations, religious organizations and individual families. The countries include: Burundi - Ethiopia - Ghana - Kenya - Ivory Coast - Liberia - Mozambique - Namibia - Nigeria - Somalia - South Africa - Swaziland - Tanzania - Uganda - and Zambia.
“Is life really worth living? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”
These are the questions that were always on Harriet Naggawa’s mind at this time of crisis and underneath the surface of daily events! Her life was messy and very confusing! She was working as a bar maid at to Go Greek restaurant in Mbuga-Kansanga, a Kampala suburb known mainly for prostitution. Harriet “Traveled an extra smile with many of her customers,” she said, in order to support herself. She had to work long hours or sometimes sleep at her place of work because of her long schedule. This was a long way from her innocent childhood.
Harriet had been a typical village girl from Buikwe, Mukono District. Harriet had participated in Stay Alive –Life skill building sessions organized by Reach The Children, Uganda in Buikwe community primary school years earlier when she was in Primary seven. She had learned about HIV/AIDS prevention and risks and she remembered the lessons she was taught. She knew very well that involving herself in ambiguous sexual relations increased her risk of HIV/AIDS infection. She was watching daily as her own mother and father were fighting for their lives after contacting HIV/AIDS.
“My father married so many women- and no one trusted the other. I know that is how my mother got infected. Father has refused to accept that he carries the virus. He chased her away from her home in Buikwe. He is so un-welcoming these days. He shouts at anything and even threatens to kill!!”
Just a few months ago, Harriet’s father had chased her away from her home in Buikwe. She joined a Rugby club that brought her to Kampala. Kampala was not like Buikwe. She had to find your own food and shelter after the Rugby trainings. From the first moment of her arrival in Kasanga life was proving to be hard. Harriet roamed the Kasanga streets to find a job…… she found one as a bar maid in the Go Greek restaurant.
After several months of living in this horror Harriet feared greatly for her life. “I do not want to get HIV/AIDS! But even if I want to use a condom- I cannot continue to dictate the terms with all the clients. I can see that my life is in danger!” Determined to Stay Alive, Harriet remembered Reach The Children, Uganda. She still had the contact numbers of the Reach the Children staff. She made the call.
With support from the Civil Society Fund, Reach the Children linked Harriet to UYDEL (Uganda Youth Development Link) in Mukono-where she did a six months course in hair-dressing. On the 31st March 2012, Harriet graduated and the good news is that she has already has a job with Lily’s Unisex Perfection Saloon in Mukono where she did her internship. Armed with her hair-dressing certificate, Harriet knows that she will not fall prey to HIV/AIDS due to a desperate situations. She can now provide a clean living for herself and a family.
“My mother is very sick. She could not come for my graduation day. That made me very sad, but I am happy I now have an option, unlike my mothe, to prevent myself from getting HIV/AIDS. Thanks to Reach the Children.”