Sunday, March 23, 2008

March 22

Liesl and Christina on the verandah at Banda Inns, Kampala

Binyavanga has some tea, and gives me some attitude...

Idah joins us on the veranda at Banda Inns

Florence is puzzled by my photographic technique...

Five Things 

1) Breakfast.

O. My. God. Perhaps the best eggs ever. And bacon. And tea. And fruit.

The coffee was instant. 

We didn't try it.

2) Binyavanga Wainaina joins us - our final compadre - from Kenya.

3) A meeting with Idah Mukuka.

The first meeting with one of two powerful, wonderful, impressive women. 

Idah has lost a brother and a husband to AIDS. She is herself positive, and has publicly declared herself as such. Her story, one of stigmatization, and of the struggle faced by women who are positive, is staggering. Idah is herself a miracle - to have become so proactive in fighting for the rights of African women, to be so prominent in the saving of lives across the continent - this is an enormous story. After designing counseling strategies for the YWCA, she now works for the Stephen Lewis foundation in Africa, assessing the grants made to the foundation. 
She spent the day with us. And came with us on the next visit.

4) A meeting with Florence Nightengale Mukasa, and her interpreter, Olivia Bulega.

Florence runs the Uganda Silent Theatre - a theatre for the deaf in Uganda. Florence spoke to us of the challenges faced by the handicapped community in Africa, especially in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Though the infection rate is going down in the general population, it is accelerating in the handicapped community. The main determiner is access to information. No AIDS info exists in brail. No information is relayed to the hearing impaired through signing. But there are many more complicating factors: 

- men who rape know that the handicapped will seldom speak up, or even be able to identify them; 
- handicapped women will often say yes to a man's advances because they feel their likelihood of acquiring a boyfriend is so slim; 
- doctors will often not explain HIV/AIDS to a deaf (or blind) patient, but rather to a relative. The illness is therefore not understood by  the patient, and treatment is compromised. 

Florence and her Theatre group create plays to inform the deaf (and hearing) communities of these issues. They also address other subjects, but, at the moment, the pandemic is front and centre. 

Idah (from the Stephen Lewis foundation), and Anurita (who works with AIDS Free World) both suggested to Florence that she come to the SLF with a grant proposal. This is wonderful work, being done by a remarkable woman.

5) Dinner at Indian Summer. Again - the food in Uganda is STUPENDOUS. And a local beer - Bell Lager - was found not to be wanting. Not at all.

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