Aspen Ambassadors Trip – Day Three – Community equals Family

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, 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 Brandon Lewis, Aspen New York Office

This has to be one of the most life changing events that i have ever experienced. It’s partially because I was the first to cross the “Kiwoko Chase” finish line. One would think it would have been by foot, but with my luck, I tripped,and finished the race in a first class ride in the Kiwoko Chase ambulance. If you know me you know I’m your typically Hypochondriac, so you could have imagined my thoughts after seeing my open wounds on a land that I have never treaded on before. Entering the hospital while being a patient is a different experience then observing it as foreigner. So naturally, I compared it to what i see and experience in New York. I have to stress that even though their facilities may not be as pristine as those in a city like New York, their care and treatment were grade A quality, and quite frankly this is something you sometimes don’t experience in those pristine facilities in New York.

Brandon and friendsWhen we reached our third day at Kiwoko, it was evident that Community Equals Family, and it was so refreshing to experience it first hand. This care and love was even obvious with the children that we visited at the hospital. It was just awesome seeing all of the children hugged-up on one another full of laughs, ready for a day full of games and fun. While having so much fun with the children here at the hospital I was also fortunate to have found a girlfriend. This gems name is Esther, and she’s around 9 or 10 years old. At first we exchanged smiles and hi-fives and then she quickly grabbed my one good hand and held it for the last few hours we had together. We ended our 2 hour romance with a big hug and the same friendly smile that we began our day with.

Later in the day we had the privilege to meet a remarkable woman by the name of Florence, who has had HIV for almost 10 years. Florence has been with Kiwoko since her diagnosis and said firmly “if it was not for the hospital she would not be here today”. Which means Florence would not be a mother and she wouldn’t be able to raise 4 healthy HIV free children, and have a HIV free husband. With this blessing that was bestowed on Florence she makes it her duty to be a counselor and consult women, teaching them all she knows about HIV and the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

I can’t express how much gratitude I have in my heart to have met these two wonderful ladies who are winning while battling a viscous disease. What is great about Kiwoko is that they have given these two ladies and numerous others various opportunities. Opportunity to live and and have a vibrant future. A future where Florence can one day see her children grow get married and have children of their own. A future where Esther can live long enough to have a real boyfriend and one day marry him. After talking to Florence, hearing her testimony and learning more about the treatment i believe Ester may even be able to have healthy children of her own and be able to break this vicious cycle of spreading the disease to them.

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