Although our visit was expected, Vincent Baakabulindi could not sit and wait for us at his home at Kagezi Village in Kabonera Sub- County, Masaka District. His wife had to call him from the garden where he was planting cabbages. “I’m sorry I couldn’t sit home and wait for you, but this is what I became after the training Kitovu Mobile took us through. Gone are the days where I could sit home because I was a substance farmer. This commercial farming which you trained us about doesn’t give me room for sitting at home,” Baakabulindi shares as he ushers us in his newly constructed house.
Upon entering, the Antiretroviral (ARV) drug tins on the table make a louder statement that he is HIV positive, but very open because he defied stigma after getting counseling from Kitovu Mobile, a reason why he only thinks about fending for his children.
In 2010, Kitovu Mobile Aids Organisation working with Gorta, an Irish aid agency trained its HIV positive clients about farming where beneficiaries got seedlings for coffee and vegetables to improve nutrition and livelihood.
Eight years later, Baakabulindi who joined Kitovu Mobile Aids Organisation programme in 2007 as their HIV positive client is one of the clients reaping fortunes from the training after abandoning subsistence farming in favor of commercial farming.
“They trained us and gave us good seeds which have enhanced our yields. I already started earning from the coffee which seedling I got from Gorta. It is this money which has helped me build this new house,” A visibly happy Baakabulindi says
He has even switched from growing beans to cabbages, green peppers, and tomatoes which have seen him boost his livelihood. His house is a vivid testimony to this.
“I have built a new house and I look for my family as well as my parents; I have already bought two plots of land at Shs1.5m and Shs2m which I plan to develop soon, ”
However, Baakabulindi says he lacks an irrigation system to grow crops throughout the year and currently braves the biting weather conditions.
“I have a big house and if I am supported to have a big water tank, I can harvest water when it rains, I can use that water to irrigate the crops and get huge profits because, during dry spells, there is usually high demand for crops like tomatoes, ”Baakabulindi says.
Social Life improved
He gets a lot of support from Kitovu Mobile, which got him an understanding wife who is also HIV positive.
Baakabulindi’s wife Nalongo Sarah Nakalema says she nearly lost her life in 2009, but after getting Mr. Francis Sebula, an HIV medic/counsel at Kitovu Mobile Aids Organisation, who enrolled him on care and later got her a spouse under their arrangement to foster positive living by getting spouses for clients.
This move, according to Mr Sebula, aims at making a client get a partner who is also HIV positive, saying this fosters adherence. “They can easily support each other when taking drugs,” he says
And indeed Nakalema and Baakabulindi are vivid testimonies to this, She says, “I’m now moving on positively, nothing can stop me from taking my drugs. That is why we don’t even hide it. As you can see, the drugs are kept in the sitting room”
She says their children are all HIV negative, thanks to Elimination of Mother- to –Child HIV Transmission Programme where they have been trained and taught the precautions needed to have safe babies .