My second clinic day.
Me and my pink blog again - I don't know how to change the colours yet, but hopefully will soon. Another Tuesday and another adolescent day at the clinic and again I left with the feeling that there is so much that could be done for these kids. It would take me a long time to write about everything that happened, so I won't share everything but there are two stories from today I would like to tell. The first is that of a boy/man named Henry Kitaka. He came up to talk to me at the clinic this morning. He is 21 years old and an education student at Makerere University here in Kampala. He was not at the clinic for himself (in case you were wondering about the age) but brings his brother to the clinic every Tuesday. See, both Henry's brother(12) and sister (15) were vertically infected with HIV by their mother. Their father had passed away some time ago but their mother only very recently. Despite their illness both of the younger kids have been attending school and managed to get to S1 and P6 respectively (I think P6 corresponds to grade 6 and S1 should be grade 8?!). Henry now lives with his sibs at his grandmother's house but apart from taking every Tuesday and Friday off to bring one of his sibs to the clinic, he is also struggling to pay his fees. Do not ask me why hes 15 year old sister has to come to the clinic on Friday, I don't know. What I do know is that Henry's story is not unique. The stories of the kids who attend our clinic are sad, but there is also more to the story: that of the caregivers who have to give up so much to support their loved ones. From clinic staff you also hear the other stories: children who are abandoned by their families(usually extended, when their parents die)because of their HIV status. That makes it even more tragic that those who are willing to give support and care, have to give up so much themselves. I told Henry I would try to get his story out there, he's a bright, very nice young man and I believe he would have made a great teacher. Thing is, he probably will have to drop out and get a job to support his sibs and his grandmother. I watched him today, sitting or leaning against the railings trying to do his homework, looking at his watch hoping he would still make this afternoon's lectures and my heart blead for him. He is not HIV positive himself, so I doubt whether we would be able to help him through the clinic, yet, if he could finish his degree he would be better able to support his siblings. My second story for today: I think I have found my pet project while I am here. Sitting in the clinic waiting room today, talking to some of the kids I realized that I had one very important thing in common with them: almost all the kids I talked to loves to read. Many of them can't go to school - either for financial reasons, or because they are sick- and every one I asked said theyliked to read. Problem is, they don't have access to books. So when you ask them what their favourite books are, they say anything, or as one girl put it 'the closest one'. Now, for someone who has more books than she probably needs and who loves to read this is an incredibly wrong state of affairs. I have therefore decided that my 'extracurricular activity' for my time here would be to get these kids book. Somehow I will set up a library system at the clinic that will work with either the staff or some of the adolescents themselves, but I honestly believe that no child should be denied the right to read. So, I have no idea where to even begin looking for books. Anybody else got any ideas? I am hoping to rope my family and friends into this - sure they are going to be thrilled!- but I believe this is truly worthwhile. If anybody who doesn't fall into either of those categories read this - for whatever bizarre reason- and you have any ideas on where I can find books or a way to distribute them amongst the kids please don't hesitate to let me know! So, that will be my two stories from the clinic for today. I will write again soon to let you know what is going on here, until then.... cheers