It is unusual to find a very friendly, positive and proactive person such as Ssalongo Kagumba Mulinda. Indeed it may take me longer to meet a person whose social skills match those of this 54-year-old man. Because of his positive outlook to life, Ssalongo Kagumba Mulinda can be taken for a 30-year-old. Kagumba has an innate ability to manage his surroundings, having the freedom to choose – as described by Stephen Covey’s Proactive model – self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will.
Kagumba, whose name literally translates to ‘bone’, is so named by his peers, and they call him so on most occasions. He is indeed a bone that is unbreakable in the lives of the people living with HIV and AIDS within the two HIV positive organisations, OBOTH- PLHIV and Bukuma PLHIV, he works for. He is not deterred by the fact that he is living positively with HIV, and has experienced numerous challenges from family members and others in the community. Rather, this is a man who is known by everybody in his village.
He says: “Whenever I find that I have disagreed with a member of my community and we are not on speaking terms, I will make an effort directly or indirectly cross their paths. This will draw me closer to them and I will always make the first move to greet them and later rework our relationship.”
It therefore comes as no surprise that Kagumba is using his unique social skills to assist people to live positively with HIV and AIDS and urge those who have not yet tested to go for voluntary counselling and testing.
In a community village meeting held in Kiwogozza, Kagumba tells his village mates, without mincing words: “Do not celebrate and condemn people who are HIV positive, because there are so many ways of getting HIV. You may think Mulinda has HIV and you do not, but again you may get the virus and need the help of those who have been living with it for many years like myself.”
Kagumba, who was addressing people in the presence of Luwero mayor Mr. Ssebyala Charles and Luwero District police commander Bamuzibire Samuel, added: “Many people have HIV – those who know and those who do not know. But it is up to you to know your HIV status. Most importantly, I request all pregnant women to go and get tested. Most times we have asked them and they have dodged this responsibility. But I am now asking the men to accompany their wives for testing because we do not want HIV to harm your body by attacking your CD4 cells. The women can transfer the virus to their babies during pregnancy, labour or while breastfeeding. It is important that you know your HIV status so that you save your baby from the virus.
“I am the perfect example of a person living with HIV. I have lived with HIV for 24 years and I hope to live for more than 20 years with HIV doing whatever I wish to accomplish in my lifetime.”
He told residents to also take up Safe Medical Male Circumcision (SMC), which is available free of charge at the government health centres in Luwero and other districts. At Kasana Health Centre IV there is free circumcision every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, where people are first counselled before they are circumcised.
Kagumba also works as a Network Support Agent (NSA) in programmes supported by Alliance Uganda. He is based at Kasana Health Centre IV.
Ms Julian Mubiru Ssenteza, the chairperson for the Women Council in Kiwogozi LC1, urged the village community in attendance to use the HIV health services provided.
Juliana told parents in attendance: “Love your children and stop being cruel to them. Discuss issues with your children, especially the adolescent girls and boys, and understand what they have to offer instead of harassing them. Try to provide for them to enable them not to go astray.”
During the meeting members of the village health team distributed information available for the first time in local vernacular language of Luganda on safe medical male circumcision.
- People Listening to kagumba
- Children Try out the chairs before the education session
- The borehole water source was perfect location