MASAKA. Lydia Naluyiga , is an HIV positive orphan. The 17- year- old contracted the virus from her mother and was enrolled on antiretroviral therapy when she was barely five years. “Poor HIV drugs adherence had taken way my life , but Kitovu Mobile swiftly intervened”
Living with her grandmother in Kindurwe Village , Kirumba Sub -County, Kyotera District, Naluyiga’s adherence was not due to lack of support from her guardian whose health was also weak due to advanced age.
“My adherence was poor and this saw me develop skin rushes and my general health started deteriorating ,” She reminisces.
Later, in 2012, her grandmother passed on, something she says worsened her condition. “Poor health coupled with stress heaped on me , the death of my grandmother was a big blow to me because she was so caring,” She says , adding
“By the time Kitovu Mobile counselors intervened, my viral load had gone extremely high. I was always falling sick. Everything was really bad on my side.”
But Naluyiga recalls how Kitovu Mobile lifted her out this situation which was life threatening.
The counselors from Kitovu Mobile picked her from Kindurwe and took her to Kabonera B Village, in Kabonera Sub -County, Masaka District, to stay with another grandmother.
This saw her improve on adherence and contained her stress, which saw her viral load suppressed.
“I’m now looking healthy; it is even hard to tell that I’m HIV positive. This is why I feel pity for the youth out there who simply engage in sex with their partners without testing for HIV, first” She says
“My message to the fellow youth is that HIV is still rampant and they need to be vigilant about their life. But when they get the virus, they should ensure adherence to drugs. It was not my wish, but poor adherence nearly saw me lose my life had it not been Kitovu Mobile”
Since her grandmother was also financially constrained, she attained a bursary from Kabwoko Church of Uganda Secondary School, where she was given a vacancy to study for free up to Senior Four , but when she reached Senior Three ,Naluyiga says, “The head teacher halted the offer saying the school had got some financial challenges and could no longer help me ”
This saw Naluyiga drop out of school. Unfortunately, she did not tell the organisation about her fate.
Mr Francis Sebula, the Kitovu Mobile Medic/HIV counselor in Kabonera says he knew a year later that Naluyiga had dropped out of school. “I knew about it when it was too late to intervene”
When life got harder after school, Naluyiga decided to start fending for herself.She got a petty job in a small eating joint in Kabonera Town where she works as a waitress.
But this is not a good job for a girl of Naluyiga’ age, she is exposed to a lot of challenges and as an adolescent and something wrong may happen to her.
However, Naluyiga prays that she gets a sponsor and enroll her in a vocational school where she can acquire skills in tailoring or hair dressing.
“I can leave this job and take on the offer, because this is not sustainable. All I want is to have skills to secure a bright future” She says
Fortunately, Mr Sebula says he is in touch with the coordinator of DREAMS Project ,Mr Kenneth Godfrey Lukyamuzi to see how Naluyiga can be assisted . “I am optimistic that she will get enrolled and get skills in tailoring as she wishes . The good thing is that upon completion, Kitovu Mobile provide such vulnerable girls with business startup kits”
DREAMS, which stands for Determined, Resilient , Empowered ,Aids-free, Mentored Safe Women ,is also run by Kitovu Mobile. The project enables HIV infected teens and vulnerable orphans acquire hand-on skills.