Self First for others

J Brenda Lanyero
Posted December 4, 2018 from Uganda

As they always say that there is always a solution in every problem we face every single day. So true it is. 

After the week of training in First Aid and field visits, we were extremely nervous as were to go out and sensitize the community on HIV/AIDS, proper condom use and disposal. And were excited that we would be able to go to Namugongo Catholic Shrine to offer First Aid to the pilgrims from all over Uganda and beyond. Be able to visit the lake as it was in one of the areas we are to go to for field work. We were finally taken to the field in groups which now had us to be paired up led by a volunteer who was our team leader. We hit the road in our Red T-shirt printed, Uganda Red Cross Society in white. All happy, we dispatched.

So, this experience was when a year one student at the university. The first few days were fine and fun as you are being called musawo to mean doctor. But as the days went by, we started advancing towards the lake where the people were a little different. We continued though we were getting tired and burnt out. One morning a man pulled my partner by the sleeve of her T-shirt and dragged her while screaming at her why she was distributing condoms and yet unwilling to go with him. It was like that day marked that exercise and painted it black. We were labeled prostitutes, promoters of evil doings in the society. A similar incidence where one middle aged woman was on the side of the road just next to her small wattle house. She was standing akimbo as we approached her, she hungrily pointed at us and motioned as to not get closer. "Do not bother coming here, because I do not do prostitution. I wonder why young girls like you would be carrying boxes of such unclean things. Hmm...had I got a daughter like you, I would never allow her to do such disgusting thing in the name of learning. Just turn back and go elsewhere to promote your immorality of prostitution." Still standing there and lost for words, we looked at each other knowingly and went to the other houses. Some of the women who wanted to pick the condoms would fear that their husbands would come back home and beat them up that they are cheating or planning to cheat on them and most of the men we mostly met outside their homes were too shy to pick them and those who had the courage were laughed at by their peers endlessly. 

It was becoming stressful as we could not enjoy our field work anymore. I sat down in a shade at a bus stop and gave aunt Anna a call as usual when at break points and explained to her our ordeal. "You are a strong girl and now you are even stronger as you are now a social worker in the making. That is how society is, you can never find a levelled ground as you will always have to skip and jump over stones and sticks and sometimes you have to first go and take off the roadblocks and get the other side to do the things you like or should. Just don't believe what those people say, you are not anything that they say you are."

What keeps me going and how I take care of myself; I pray every single day to the Lord for new strength for I know He refreshes me each moment and tell Him to use me as a vessel to make a difference in the life of someone. I meditate on the goodness of God. I sleep enough and refuse to get stress and eat my fruits and vegetables and never miss my black lemon tea to help me relax. The belief that one day I will become well off also keeps me going and hope to lend a hand one day to those who need support in life. So, with all these and the positive thinking, I am calm enough to listen to others and help them accordingly. 

As for the community, lots of teaching concerning safe sex, family planning and general health is needed not only during the times students are on internship and also should go and talk to them and let them know that staffs at red cross are not doctors, the fake ones as they would say could not prescribe medication to relieve pain. A good amount of financial support is required to get more permanent field based staffs to always visit these people and sensitize, education them and find partners to support and work with such a Community to make a difference and perceive certain activities differently and believe that it is for the good of everyone and not some hidden agenda of us the they called doctors who seem so immoral in their eyes. 

As an individual, I believe that the only way we can support one another in this sisterhood community, if in the same country or town, besides the words of encouragement on the platform here, we can visit the projects of one another and review them and come up with better ways to enable them stand the test of time in order to serve the community better. Such visits can be accompanied by moral support to a sister since finances may not be there. We could also just meet up in a cafe over a cup of tea and talk as sisters and encourage one another or go on a trip which does not require spending, climb the mountain, dance in the raind, laugh and cry as sometimes this is the best therapy a sister needs to revive and get up to carry on even stronger. 

This story was submitted in response to Caring for Ourselves.

Comments 12

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Dec 05, 2018
Dec 05, 2018

Hi Brenda,

Thanks for sharing your post about training people in your region about HIV/AIDS. This sounds like a great initiative, and I hope you don't get discouraged and give up. Education and sensitization has to start somewhere. Perhaps those people or regions that are more reluctant now need a brochure first, or education in a community meeting first, before they can digest newer and healthier concepts.

I agree that encouraging and supportive other women and their projects is a great idea. Have you already been doing this? Have you looked at the World Pulse "community" pages for other women doing the same thing or something that you are passionate about that you could collaborate or encourage each other on?

Hope you're having a great day, and good luck with your story submission!

J Brenda Lanyero
Dec 05, 2018
Dec 05, 2018

Thank you so much Jlanghus, I really appreciate and love the effort, words, the love and the time you put in this platform.

Yes, we normally carry the brochures along and some even ask us to interpret for them and help them understand better and help demonstrate how the condoms are used. We do this in a group when sharing ideas and those who have challenges to speak up in a group always follow us and we interact more. Like some of the women said they were not reluctant but rather, it is hard as a woman to initiate the use of condoms and also that female condoms are a little difficult to use and some men just do not want it.

Not been doing anything like that but I did see some of those who do or have projects similar to mine but never gotten in contact with them. But surely I will do that and share the experience with us all.

Jill Langhus
Dec 06, 2018
Dec 06, 2018

You're welcome:-) Aw... blush:-)

Okay, great. Thank you for the clarification. I see. That makes sense, but at least they were open to discuss it which is a step in the right direction.

Oh, yes. That's a great idea. Send me a private message, if you would like to brainstorm about this. Looking forward to hearing about any future collaborations, or progress:-)

Hope you have a great day!

J Brenda Lanyero
Dec 06, 2018
Dec 06, 2018

Thank you Jlanghus.

Jill Langhus
Dec 06, 2018
Dec 06, 2018

You're welcome:-)

Kay Link
Dec 05, 2018
Dec 05, 2018

Your message and strength are encouraging - I deeply admire your courage to go forward when you faced adversity in your efforts to spread advocacy on preventing HIV/AIDS. I love, love, love your last paragraph on how we can spread sisterhood. I am saving your advice for me to look at in the future - you truly capture how we can uphold our sisters and support one another on our individual paths and spiritually. Thank you, Brenda!

J Brenda Lanyero
Dec 05, 2018
Dec 05, 2018

Hi Kay, thank you so much for your kind words. Am glad you love the story and particularly the last bit.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Feb 26
Feb 26

Hello Brenda
You have a good initiative.May God continue to strengthen you.
Love
Veronica
Cameroon

Obisakin Busayo
Jun 24
Jun 24

Well done Breda and wishing a great success in your submission

Jacqueline Namutaawe

Oh Brenda sharing about your experience I can relate to what you are talking about very typical in most Ugandan settings ha ha ha. Yet we can not meet most of the high level targets without the basics like awareness and education in the grass roots.

Jacqueline Namutaawe

Oh Brenda sharing about your experience I can relate to what you are talking about very typical in most Ugandan settings ha ha ha. Yet we can not meet most of the high level targets without the basics like awareness and education in the grass roots.

Jacqueline Namutaawe

Oh Brenda sharing about your experience I can relate to what you are talking about very typical in most Ugandan settings ha ha ha. Yet we can not meet most of the high level targets without the basics like awareness and education in the grass roots.

Related Stories