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HIV/AIDS - A widow's struggle to care for orphans affected by the disease


SOME of the stories told about the burdens some families are bearing as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, may sound hard to believe. Despite the efforts of the Government and non governmental organisations to support people living with HIV/AIDS, the burden is still heavy.

One of the greatest challenges facing people living with HIV/AIDS is discrimination and stigmatisation. This has been the case for 66-year-old Mego Rose Odongpiny who contracted HIV while attending to her sick children.

A resident of Layibi A and B village in Pece Division, Gulu Municipality, Odongpiny lost seven of her eight children to HIV/AIDS. Her husband died of natural causes and she is now left to care for her 14 orphaned grandchildren.

"As I attended to my children, I was advised by health workers to test for HIV and was found positive. Since then, I have been taking care of my grandchildren, seven of whom are infected with HIV.

There was no one to help me and our neighbours discriminated against us," she says. Odongpiny sought help beyond her neighbourhood, but even there her efforts were futile.

"I used to move to the offices of several NGOs working in Gulu but all I returned home with were promises that were never fulfiled. There was not a single follow-up on any of my requests for assistance.

None of the organisations took the initiative," she says as tears roll down her cheeks. It was not until Odongpiny approached Health Alert Uganda (HAU) that she was able to find help.

She is now the beneficiary of a sh1.3m pit latrine from the organisation which also provides medical care for her HIV-positive grandchildren.

The two-stance pit latrine was constructed with funds from Health Alert Uganda, Gulu Youth Centre and Save the Children in Uganda. It was recently handed over to Odongpiny at her home in Pece Division.

Odongpiny says: "I am pleased with the contribution of the NGOs because my children used to ease themselves in the bush. The neighbours would stop the children from using their latrines because they have HIV/AIDS."

The advocacy officer of HAU, Francis Obutu, said the NGOs were fulfiling their social corporate responsibility by contributing towards the wellbeing of Odongpiny and her family.

The Pece Division LC3 chairman, Geoffrey Otim, contributed sh100,000 as capital for Odongpiny to set up a small business. He said no one should be discriminated against for being HIV-positive.


All articles are republished on AEGIS by permission. Material may not be redistributed, posted to any other location, published or used for broadcast without written authorization from Managing Director/Editor-in-chief, The New Vision, P.O. Box 9815, Kampala - Uganda, Tel/fax: 256-41-235221, E-mail: 

Information in this article was accurate in May 24, 2009. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.