Connecting local responses around the world
Since December 2011, The Constellation has worked in partnership with the World Health Organisation and Health Nest Uganda to transfer the Community Life Competence process. The aim of the partnership has been to strengthen the participation of older persons in local community responses. In April 2012, a group of new CLCP facilitators met together to measure their progress and document their experiences. These are their stories.
Care leads to Change
A home visit helps a couple agree about testing for HIV
Eunice Musubika and Cissy Bachengana
Mr Kyobe is sixty-nine year old man, married with a family of eight children. Despite being physically disabled, he is a very hardworking, innovative man: he makes musical instruments and furniture, and is even engaged in missed farming.
A team from Elders’ Concern Uganda met Mr Kyobe as they conducted home visits in Gayaza village, Kakiri community. They had been visiting his next-door neighbour, who suggested they visit the Kyobe home as well, and took them to meet him. During the visit, Mr Kyobe was very active and excited, and participated freely in the conversation. The team noticed, though, that his wife was quiet throughout; she was reserved and seemed sad.
Using strategic questions, the visiting team explored her concerns. This seemed to stimulate her to feel safe enough to open up about her husband’s refusal to test for HIV. He often came home very late, and she suspected him of having extramarital affairs. Mr Kyobe defended himself: “If my wife is negative, I am also negative, so where is the need for me to test?”
Listening carefully and respectfully to Mrs Kyobe, the team appreciated her efforts to know her status, and her consistent encouragement of her husband to take an HIV-test and be secure in his own status. As the conversation deepened, many facts, attitudes and perceptions about HIV were exchanged and questions asked. “I suppose,” confessed Mr Kyobe, “the truth is that I would like to test for HIV, but I am afraid of the injections.” The team continued to gently encourage Mr Kyobe. By the time the visit ended, he had agreed to accompany his wife so that they could both be tested together.
This experience clearly illustrates, for the team from Elder Concern Uganda, the impact of the Community Life Competence process, and particularly the influence of SALT on those community members who receive home visits. The visit gave space for Mrs. Kyobe to express her hope for a stronger marriage, and for a community where all couples agree to, together, test for HIV. It stimulated Mr Kyobe to acknowledge his own concerns regarding HIV, and to resolve the disagreement with his wife for whom he cared very deeply. Through SALT, non-governmental organisations can play a vital role to strengthen community participation in the fight against HIV.