Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24

Fatima and Christina at the National Coalition for Woman with Aids, Kampala

Alice at NACOA explains the challenges faced by women in today's Uganda. She and one of the few men in the coalition, sit in front of a quilt embroidered with the names of all the women in their organization who have died.

Beatrice Were, one of the leading HIV-positive AIDS activists in Africa

The men and women of NACOA

Back at Banda Inns for lunch

Drama Professor Patrick Mangeni at Makere University

Judith Adong, Writer and Lecturer at Makarere's Institue of Languages

Steven Nyeko, a young Kampala-based filmmaker

On the shores of Lake Victoria, Binyavanga and James talk politics

We join Ugandan novelist Doreen Baingana for astonishingly good Pizza and Tilapia - that's Anurita Bains to Doreen's left

Definitely not goat

Three visits today.

1) The National Coalition for Woman with AIDS in Uganda.

This is an organization that supports women (and now men) who are HIV positive. We met a large group of women, and three men. All the women were widows raising children. Most were on ARVs (Anti Retro Virals). Uganda has been good in rolling out treatment. But there are now second wave challenges. among them:

- extreme side effects which go untreated - so much so that now some women refuse treatment to begin with (Fatima's side effects included blisters covering her entire body, and sores on her mouth which welded her lips together - surgery was needed to part them - she was curious as to whether the West had better treatments that weren't reaching Africa. A good question).

- lack of employment for people living with the disease successfully. this means no income, no food for children

NACOA has almost no funding, yet boasts a membership of 20,000 women across Uganda. 

And they sang for us. Beauty and strength. 

Among our favourite lyrics:

"Traditional beliefs torture women"

2) Makarere University

We had a fascinating chat with two teachers and an ex-student, now a filmmaker. A glimpse into the writing and theatre of Uganda. An interesting sidebar: NGO commissions occupy the place of corporate gigs in North America. That's where the money is for writers - and that's where the quality doesn't matter. Brand-placement matters to the average NGO.

3) Lake Victoria with Doreen Baingana

Binyavanga's old friend Doreen invited us to Lake Victoria for dinner. It was marvelous. And so was Doreen - a wise and delightful woman. 

Home to bed. It's late. Blogging steals time from sleep!

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