Lubangakene Godfrey, a 21-year-old living with HIV, is talented in football and played with Butabika Soccer Academy for more than 5 years. While in primary school, he was bullied by schoolmates because he was HIV-positive, which pushed him to join sports and even become the team captain. Since 2007, Godfrey has been a client of Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative (ROM), a community-based organization providing holistic HIV care in Kampala. He has taken part in most of the Annual Adolescent Sports Gala that have been organized by ROM since 2008. “Sports makes me forget my status and increases my hope; it makes me feel that I am part of the team and I can contribute to Reach Out,” he said. Worldwide, adolescents and youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are part of the most-at-risk populations for HIV. Uganda’s population is disproportionately young; with 52.4% under 15 years while adolescents (10-19 years) comprise 23.3%. As many youth exhibit risky sexual behaviors contributing to the spread of HIV, several Ugandan organizations are targeting youth through sports to spread messages of HIV prevention and healthy behaviors.
Reach Out Mbuya HIV/AIDS Initiative and Naguru Teenage and Information Center hosted the 9th Annual adolescent sports competition gala, joined by a coalition of ten other organizations implementing HIV/AIDS-related programs for young people: Makerere University Joint AIDS Program (MJAP), Straight Talk Foundation, Marie Stopes, MildMay Uganda, DSW Uganda, Treasure Life Center, Turckle Africa, Namugongo Fund for Special Children and Naguru Health Network. Many of the young people supported by these organizations are either HIV-affected; some have been victims of drug use. Often they experience discrimination because of their HIV status or living conditions. Along with promoting wellness, physical activity for youth has also showed to be an integral strategy for stemming horizontal HIV transmission, a critical health priority for the nation. This year’s gala focused on equipping adolescents with Often they experience discrimination because of their HIV status or living conditions. Along with promoting wellness, physical activity for youth has also showed to be an integral strategy for stemming horizontal HIV transmission, a critical health priority for the nation.
This year’s gala focused on equipping adolescents with knowledge and life skills through fun and experiential learning to help them make informed decisions concerning their sexuality, reproductive health and rights. “Participating in Sports Gala gives adolescents a free environment to socialize, meet new friends, and have fun together, which helps them to forget about their current situations,” said Mwima Mubakali Junior, a peer educator at the Naguru Teenage Information and Health Center. “You are creating a space for them where they feel they are loved.” This year’s Sports Gala targeted 800 young people, and was held at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, from 8:00am – 4:30pm.
The Guest of Honor was the Mayor of Nakawa Division, Eng. Balimwezo Ronald Nsubuga, who is passionate about children and sports. Activities included a march led by the Reach Out Mbuya Talent Club brass band from Sauti Center through the Kireka community, dissemination of information on healthy behaviors; sport competitions including volleyball, football, and sack races; and music, dance and drama about adolescent health and HIV prevention. 21-year-old Godfrey hopes the gala would also raise attention to issues of discrimination of HIV-positives in sports. No matter the sports talent of some people living with HIV, required medical checkups before signing for a team often result in their being dropped from consideration, he said. But Godfrey dreams of being a football coach and sports journalist, building the biggest orphanage center in the country and being a great agriculturalist.
Because of the counseling and support I get, I find that I am not bothered by what people say, and I am strong and competitive. I even know that I can live longer than my HIV-negative counterparts,” he said. “What I want is for equality between the positives and the negatives in our society.”
Jul 03, 2018 Comments Off on When a worker is punished for being honestBy Venansio Ahabwe Mr. Naperi did not acquire a lot of...