Since 2007, The ISIS Foundation has had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen. It has been an amazing partnership, which has shown us all the exponential power of linking the business sector with those in need in the developing world. Together, we have been able to provide the hospital with a new and expanded neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and a brand new maternity ward. In addition, Aspen helps people living with HIV to stay happy and healthy through various programmes. Most recently, Aspen has committed to supporting the ISIS Safe Motherhood projects as part of the larger community based health care programme.
Each year, eight Aspen staff members from offices across the globe come to Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. Every year, they leave inspired. For the next week, the ambassadors will be writing a blog each day about their experience at Kiwoko. This is Day Three.
By George Headlam – Aspen Ambassador – London Office
Sunday’s blog took me a whole day to reflect on so I decided to sleep on it. The following day, I was able to make sense of the whole roller coaster day’s activities. I thought a chronology would not do justice to my experience so I decided to re-count the story of “Anna”, garnished with a few anecdotes.
The ambassadors visited the HIV/AIDS unit and spent the day playing games and interacting with the children. Every other Sunday the kids come to the hospital for their medicine.
We played a series of games including three legged races and musical chairs. We were divided into three teams Red, (me, Mario and Cabrie) Blue and Yellow, with a selection of the kids of all ages. The Yellow team won but we all had fun. One highlight was David (Young) who was in the Yellow team, deciding to “beat” the CEO in a “fill the bottle with water” race. I suspect he hasn’t been told of the cardinal rule of letting the boss win! Too bad, he could have had a long career at Aspen! Amit however came 3rd and is now in line for a hefty bonus!
During the day’s activity I manage to dust off a Aspen version of “Jesus Loves me” on my guitar for the kids with Mario on Percussions and David on Sticks. This was officially Aspen’s first overseas gig!
The serious stuff however, comes back to Anna’s story. She was a part of the Red team so I got a chance to interact with her. I noticed she was full of energy and very much a leader, and was singularly Red’s most valuable player as she amassed the most points and organised not only the kids but the adults too.
Little did I know that when we sat downs and had completed the day’s activities she would reappear to tell us her story. As an HIV sufferer she has been through the mire. We attended a talk / discussion about the HIV programme and had the privilege of hearing from Anna and her father. Her story was one of hope and aspiration on her part. She wants to become a doctor. The ISIS programme supports her in her quest to achieve this. She is a teenager who has seen her younger sibling die from the disease and lived through her mother leaving her after both her and her father were diagnosed as HIV positive.
She really epitomises the courage which I have seen within the community and the refusal to be viewed as a victim. Instead, she is involved in establishing a HIV awareness group within her school and reaching out to others. She certainly was taking up the mantle of leader and made everyone felt that there is plenty of hope with her sort of energy available to the community at large.
The rest of the day saw the daily debriefing in the communal room, and others echoed the sentiments I had. Although we are all having a great time, it was certainly an emotionally draining day.