Interview With Lillian Mworeko
National Forum for PLWHA in Uganda, Kampala, Uganda
P4P: Our guest interview is with Lillian Mworeko from Uganda, and Lillian is going to be talking to us about the National Forum of People Living With HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda. This is a new group that has been formed as an umbrella group for existing PLWHA networks in Uganda. Lillian, please tell us all about it. How did the organization get started? What is your position, what are you doing within the organization? What does the organization seek to do?
Ms. Mworeko: Thank you. This is a forum of people living with HIV and AIDS in Uganda. It brings together all associations and groups of people living with HIV and AIDS, and our main purpose is to ensure that we have a common voice to fight for our rights, and to ensure that all people living with HIV and AIDS at all levels have been heard and are well represented. It was formed in May 2003 after realization that there was nobody, no organization that was bringing together all associations and networks in the country. I work as the Capacity Building Officer in the organization.
P4P: Have you instituted any programs or services with this new organization? Can you describe some of the activities that you are involved in?
Ms. Mworeko: We have yet to carry out a strategic plan that will guide us on what we do as a forum, but before that we will carry out a needs assessment, which will be done shortly. We hope to be guided by the needs assessment, which is going to form the strategic plan, and thereafter we will forge ahead with what we need to do as the forum.
P4P: What sort of capacity building activities will you be doing in your position as Capacity Building Officer?
Ms. Mworeko: I see myself bringing together all people living with HIV and AIDS with some expertise, trying to enhance their skills and capacity so that they can respond greatly to the pandemic. Many times as people living with HIV and AIDS, we have been used, not greatly, but we realize we have some skills that can be enhanced, and through that we can really participate greatly in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We really need to enhance the skills of the people so that we can scale up our response in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
P4P: Will you be working with other groups, like TASO, in trying to help expand ARV access or education of individuals prior to receiving ARV, so that they know what to expect? Will you be working with other groups, like the AIDS Service Organization in Uganda?
Ms. Mworeko: We will be working in partnerships and collaborations, and we will look at where our cooperative advantage is. In our country we have what we call the National HIV/AIDS Partnership, which brings together all key players in the fight against HIV and AIDS. As we sit in our meetings we try to see which group is best at doing what, and that's where we come in. We are going to really work as a team, bringing together everyone on board, but especially coming up with what we feel as people living with HIV/AIDS what we can bring on board in order to enhance our participation.
P4P: Is this your first trip to the United States?
Ms. Mworeko: Yes, this is my first trip here.
P4P: What sorts of sessions were you finding most interesting at the conference?
Ms. Mworeko: I was more interested in sessions that dealt with antiretroviral drugs and microbicides. But I should also mention that I was really touched. In almost all the sessions I realized that despite the fact that sub-Saharan Africa is most hit by the pandemic, I didn't see much of our participation in this. Therefore, it is something that we are going to take up with my colleagues from the African continent to ensure that in subsequent conferences we have more representation.
P4P: In terms of microbicides, what did you find most encouraging? Do you know if there will be any microbicides trials in Uganda?
Ms. Mworeko: I didn't hear that, but what I did hear was the fact that there's a need to mobilize people who are going to use these microbicides, and I realize that that's where we come in as people living with HIV/AIDS. We know people who need these microbicides, we know where they are, and they very much listen to us. Therefore, our role is going to be in mobilization; giving out information as to where, how these microbicides are going to be used, when they'll be available and the advantage of using them.
P4P: As you return to Uganda, what message would you like to leave people living with HIV/AIDS and AIDS activists in the U.S.?
Ms. Mworeko: In sub-Saharan Africa, people are dying day by night, and it is unfortunate that people are dying when there are antiretroviral drugs available. I call upon everybody to respond so that history does not judge us. It's really unfortunate to see people die when their lives can be saved.
P4P: Thank you very much, Lillian.
Ms. Mworeko: Thank you.
This article was provided by Wyoming: Positives for Positives. It is a part of the publication Positives for Positives.