Communities in the Kalangala Islands have some of the highest HIV rates in Uganda, but Samaritan’s Purse is working with local churches to ensure that those rates decrease
The Kalangala District of Uganda is composed of 84 islands scattered across Lake Victoria. The main economic activity is fishing, and there is a constant migration of fishermen from one island to another.GiveThere is also a steady migration of prostituted women to the islands from adjacent mainland communities, one of the major causes behind the high HIV/AIDS prevalence of between 20 and 30 percent in the district.
Most people with HIV in the Kalangala Islands don’t have a lot of hope. To help stop the spread of this disease and to encourage those who already have it, Samaritan’s Purse has implemented an HIV community mobilization program.
We train partner churches and volunteer church action groups to bring biblically-based solutions to the problem, from educating communities about HIV/AIDS to supporting and caring for vulnerable families infected and affected by HIV. Members take leadership in identifying, caring for, and supporting vulnerable families in their midst. Group members also encourage others to get tested to know their status.Mercy Kabunga and Nankya Teopista are two single women in the community who have already benefited from the project. Two years ago, Mercy’s husband divorced her and married another woman. Mercy was left with six children and no support. She had no work and was frequently sick. Nankya faced a similar situation when she lost her husband to HIV and was left to support four orphans.
The group has visited Mercy’s family several times and given them food and non-food items. They also gave her some money so that she could start a small business to sell fish and support her family. She is now able to pay her rent and school fees for her grandchildren.“Before [the] church action groups visited my home, [I] had thought of giving out my grandchildren to orphanage homes or whoever cares, but when the church members visited me, it gave me hope,” she said.
After the church members told Mercy that they were helping her in the Name of Jesus Christ, she devoted her life to Him and began attending church. She said she is thankful because, even though her husband deserted her, Christ is with her.
The group helped Nankya by fixing her wooden house, replacing the old iron sheets on her roof, and digging a temporary pit latrine. Beyond providing essential home improvements, group members cleaned her compound, washed clothes, and fetched water before taking the time to pray for Nankya and her family.Through this model of support and care provided by Nankya’s own community, she became hopeful that despite all her challenges, not only could her circumstances improve, but new life could emerge too. Her prayers were answered when one of her children, Nakibuule Immaculate, accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. The church leaders and the community members appreciate the project because of the way the group cares for vulnerable people.
The work will continue even after Samaritan’s Purse leaves the community. Thanks to the training, the church members have the power to carry out the work by educating and caring for others in the Name of Jesus.