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Protect the Goal: How football is transforming HIV/AIDS awareness in Karamoja

The crowds and guests have abandoned their comfortable seats and everyone is stretching the last parts of their bones to catch a glimpse of that nail biting part of the game – the penalties.

It’s the finals of the Karamoja Protect the Goal  youth tournament where Napak District is taking on  Moroto District. The first two  spot kicks  for either team  are successful until all hell breaks loose for one team.

The Moroto goalkeeper  makes a couple of daring saves and starts chest thumping like King Kong. Meanwhile, the same can’t be said for the Napak goalkeeper, who fails to stop two shots which flat foot him  and  find their way at the back of the net to leaving his teammates crestfallen.

A few minutes later, the Moroto team is declared winner of the 2016 Protect the Goal tournament amidst wild ululations and jubilation from the supporters after the guest of honor hand s the trophy and prizes  to the winning captain.He is flanked by officials from UN in Uganda and AIDS Information Center (AIC).

“Protect the Goal is a campaign using the popularity and convening power of sports to unite Ugandans towards the goal of an AIDS-free generation.” Mrs. Sheila Birungi the Executive Director of AIC states. “Football is a very popular game which is fun, engaging and entertaining most especially for the young people.” She further explains.

The two football teams in action. (Photo by Reach A Hand, Uganda)

The two football teams in action. (Photo by Reach A Hand, Uganda)

Using football in replacement for the didactic curriculums which do not appeal to the young minds is refreshing and very much needed. This allows the curriculum like on HIV/AIDS to be appealing  to young people. For various reasons- not only because they are fun, but because youth can be reached easily with the youth related programs on HIV/AIDS awareness.

The campaign therefore raises awareness around HIV prevention and encourage young people and all Ugandans to get actively involved in both the national and global response to HIV and support the UNAIDS’ ambitious target of 90-90-90 by 2020.

This target aims at ensuring that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Most young people love soccer an using it as a tool for behavior change communication is key

Most young people love soccer an using it as a tool for behavior change communication is key. (photo by Reach A Hand, Uganda)

Of course this wouldn’t have been happening if HIV/AIDS didn’t have significant impact in Africa. HIV is a huge public health problem across the African continent, with some countries having over 15% of their population infected.

In Uganda to be more specific, the situation remains not one to smile about. According to the 2014 Uganda HIV and AIDS Country Progress report, In 2013, an estimated 1.6 million people were living with HIV, and an estimated 63,000 Ugandans died of AIDS-related illnesses. As of 2013, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 49 stood at 7.4%.

In the Karamoja region, the Uganda Health Demographic Survey 2006 put the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Karamoja at 3.5 %. By 2014, the rates had just escalated to 5.3%,  from 3.5 % in 2006, compared to the national HIV/AIDS prevalence rate which stood  at 7.4%. This is according to the 2014 National Housing and Population Report.

New strategies have to be employed to reduce on the HIV prevalence rates in the region which calls for a lot of work to do which is possible. For example Reach A Hand, Uganda through the Karamoja Connect program supported by UNFPA Uganda, is empowering young people in Karamoja to use ICT and mentorship to learn about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) processes in their communities and become youth advocates.

Football has become a vital instrument for hundreds of social development programmes run by non-governmental and community-based organisations around the world. Programs like Protect The Goal can provide young people with valuable tools to actively make a difference in their own lives. By addressing the most pressing issues in each community like HIV/AIDS, the programmes can contribute to positive social change not only in Karamoja region and Uganda, but also on a global scale.

Hon. Moses Kisige, Minister of State for Karamoja handing over the trophy to the captain of Moroto team

Hon. Moses Kisige, Minister of State for Karamoja handing over the trophy to the captain of Moroto team. (photo by Reach A Hand, Uganda)

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Uganda

How Kakooza is changing perceptions about mental health in Uganda

Liz Kakooza has struggled with depression herself.  She has had it ever since she was a child. She never knew depression was a very big issue until 2015 when she was diagnosed with it and had to be in constant monitoring by a psychiatrist.

However when she recovered, she realized that there were no organizations doing work to address the mental health issue in Uganda at a time when many cases of depression were on the rise.

“I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and having experienced stigma first hand and with the lack of access to adequate mental health care in Uganda, I made it my life’s purpose to raise awareness around it which in turn will address the issue of stigma.” Liz notes.

The mental health situation in Uganda

In 2006, The Principal Medical Officer in charge of Mental Health at the Health Ministry, Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, had predicted that there was going to be a significant increase in mental health illnesses over the next years. In 2016, The IOGT International reported that there had been 500% increase in mental disorders in Uganda.

Globally according to the World Health Organization, One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

Stigma associated with mental illness also is a significant barrier to care. People with mental health problems are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term health condition or disability to find work, be in a steady, long-term relationship, live in decent housing and be socially included in mainstream society.

Liz Kakooza’s past experience fighting depression inspired her to start Tumaini Foundation

Founding Tumaini Foundation

“I started the Tumaini Foundation after identifying a need in the Mental Health space in Uganda and the continent as a whole.” Says Liz Kakooza, the Founder and Executive Director of Tumaini Foundation, World Economic Forum Global Shaper for Uganda, A Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellow 2017 and a LéO Africa Institute‘s Young & Emerging Leaders (YELP) Fellow. 

Tumaini Foundation’s approach is threefold aimed at raising awareness and address the stigma around mental health, improve access to health care for people living with mental health issues and influence and implement policy and legislation around mental health.

“In my journey of recovery, I have learnt that true recovery comes from helping others going through the same challenges which is why I started Tumaini Foundation.” Liz states as she recalls her story.

Tumaini Foundation’s focus is also on addressing stigma. Liz through her foundation believes that stigma comes from a place of ignorance and by educating people about mental health, everyone will be able to address the stigma around mental health which will have a ripple effect and open doors for our initiatives.

However the journey to launching the foundation and starting her work has also not been easy. Liz has not yet been able to identify many stakeholders in the mental health space in Uganda as the topic remains not talked about

Uganda on the other hand, has only one psychiatric hospital to handle all mental cases from across the country which becomes a very big challenge for individuals like Liz.

As Daily Monitor reported, Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital (commonly known as Butabika hospital or Butabika) is Uganda’s second largest hospital and the centre for mental health treatment and education in the country. The hospital may house anywhere from 700 to 800 patients at any one time, although it was built for a capacity of 550 patients.

Kakooza is giving hope to people going through depression to open up for help.

But that has not stopped her from achieving her goals.

“I have used crowd funding techniques and engaged partners in my networks to get the ball rolling to change the conversation around mental health in Uganda. The message has spread further than anticipated to even different parts of the continent.”- Liz notes.

Currently, the foundation has a number of projects it is running. Recently, the foundation was able to start work on its first treatment center Africa Retreat Center (ARC). ARC is an intensive out-patient facility and rehab center. It offers different treatment and rehabilitation programs for people living with mental health disorders and addiction issues.

Other programs by the foundation include; Tumaini Combat whose aim is to work with the army, Tumaini Woman which addresses mental health issues prevalent among women, Tumaini Ingane which addresses the onset of mental health challenges among children and Tumaini Lifeline; Which is a suicide & crisis counseling hot-line.

“We plan to roll-out an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where we will work with employers (corporations & private businesses) to address mental health challenges in the workplace and to develop mental health policies.

With the Tumaini Foundation, Liz believes that it is through sharing of personal stories that the foundation will be able to change the conversation around mental health. In this spirit, the foundation is slowly rolling out several communications initiatives e.g. a blog that will be live soon to share stories about mental health that are within the African context.

Like this story or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Uganda

Meet the Ugandans on the TEDGlobal 2017 Fellows list

A playwright, an Investigative Journalist and a former refugee living in Uganda are among the new class of the TED Global Fellows class of 2017.

The three are among the 21 fellows, ten of which are from African countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt and Liberia that will each, deliver a talk at this year’s TED Global gathering this August in Arusha, joining 436 other fellows from 94 countries around the world.

Below, get to know the new group of Fellows who will join us at TEDGlobal 2017, August 27–30, in Arusha, Tanzania.

Judith Adong

Adong is a Theater/Film Creative Director, Writer & Producer, who creates captivating plays and films that provoke and promote dialogue on social issues affecting underprivileged groups. Judith’s outspokenness has led her to create work that provokes dialogue and social change on issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to war crimes. She is also the artistic director of Silent Voices Uganda, a not-for-profit performing arts organization.

 

Yasin Kakande

Kakande is a Ugandan journalist working undercover in the Middle East to uncover the human-rights abuses of migrant workers. His autobiographical novel The Ambitious Struggle, is a fascinating and gripping account of life in the United Arab Emirates, as seen and reported on by a Ugandan journalist resident for over a decade in Dubai. The first such account of its kind, in outlining the duties he was assigned (in print and broadcast media) and the news events that made it (or did not make it) into the print and and broadcast media, one gains a keen look at the points of sensitivity in the complex society of the UAE.

Robert Hakiza

Hakiza is of DRC origin. He is the Co-Founder of Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID) an NGO based in  Kampala that is uniting urban refugees through avenues like sports, English classes, and vocational skills training in order to address social issues like ethnic conflicts, unemployment, public health, and lack of access to education.

Refugees that YARID serves mainly come from the Great Lakes Region: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.Hakiza and his colleagues are helping these urban refugees learn new skills.

 

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Nyege Nyege Music Festival listed among the World’s 300 best festivals in 2017

The Nyege Nyege Festival that often takes place in September along the great River Nile at Nile Discovery Beach was voted and listed among the World’s 300 best festivals. According to Everfest, every November fest300 staff remove 30 festivals from the list and they ask the International festival community to vote on 30 new festivals for the next year.

Screenshot of the African Festivals from EverFest

Nyege Nyege is a noun that literally means ‘the feeling of an uncontrollable urge to move, or dance.’ Often referred to as the festival where nature meets music, and diversity of culture, religion, and whatnot, Nyege Nyege music festival has managed to attract a number of people from allover the world for the love of music, adventure, and socializing.

Great Performances! Photo by; Gilbert Frank Daniels

The festival started in 2015, and last year was an even more epic 3 Music and arts vacation. The festival is a 3 day gate away from the hustle and bustle of town to the Nile Discovery Beach in Jinja just along the World’s greatest and longest river- River Nile.

DJs at Nyege Nyege Festival. Internet Photo

 

 

Different countries often send their music legends to represent contemporary African Music such as; kuduros, kwaito, Afro house, hiplife, Tuareg rock, cosmic synths from Niger, Arab tech, Morrocan bass, zouk bass, soukous, balani, funana, and swhaili trap and Tigrinian blues among other genres.

“Nyege Nyege takes it’s inspiration from the legendary World Festival of the Black Arts’ that took place in Dakar Senegal in 1966. An extended invitation from Uganda to the world.”- Website

Nyege Nyege often showcases the connections between Africa and the rest of the world Afro Diaspora with Cumbia from South America, vodou jazz from Haiti and underground hip hop from America, cosmic synths from Niger, and other music fusions synonymous with the African ear.

Unruly #NuNairobi at Nyege Nyege Festival 2016

The Live music is often complemented with acts from some of the best DJ’s in the World and from different parts of the World leaving revelers dancing to the best of African beats rhyming to the flow of the great Nile. Last year, the festival lined up over 200 artistes from around the world and the 24/7 music presentations, DJ mixes, and instrumentation left people yearning for more- We guess this is what made the festival get listed.

Crowds at Nyege Nyege. Photo: Chimplyf

 

 

 

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