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Thursday, May 30, 2013

"With Courage and Love" -TASO

       We began the day with an early breakfast at MUBS. We then traveled to the Mulago branch of TASO, The AIDS Support Organization where we met Claire who was our guide for the morning. This is one of 11 TASO clinics, not including one training center/laboratory. Before we entered the clinic we saw the day care where children of clients can stay. Inside the day care there is a clinician that children can see when they are sick. We then entered the clinic and spoke with two of the counselors. The counseling services at TASO provide clients with advice on nutrition, family planning, and information on AIDS medicine and its side effects. Those services are provided for clients who are able to come to the clinic for regular appointments. Counselors also have the duty of delivering medicine to clients who cannot get to the clinic. They are given a dispensing list with a patients contact information and the regiment they are on. Currently there are 4 regiments that clients can be on depending on their conditions.
       We then proceeded to the entrance of the clinic. When clients enter, they are greeted by expert clients. Expert clients are in charge of checking in the clients and bringing them to their appointments. There is a resting room available for the clients that are not able to wait due to illness. In addition, they give health talks every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We then moved down the hall to speak to the medical coordinator. He explained the procedure that most clients go through when they come to the clinic. Clients are always tested for HIV/AIDS when they come, even if they have already been tested elsewhere.  This insures that clients get results that are known to be reliable. In addition, they must take a baseline survey and receive an evaluation of their organs. Booklets are given to each client to keep track of their medical history, goals and appointments.
       The director of the clinic proceeded to greet us as we sat down to watch a performance by the Mulago Drummer Group. This group was formed by TASO clients who wanted to give back to the clinic. The Mulago Drummer Group educates communities and schools on HIV/AIDS through song and drama. Gurtrude, one of the group members, then shared her AIDS story. Through TASO she was able to have two HIV negative children with her husband.  All of the group members had beautiful voices and seemed very passionate about educating Ugandans.  Their performance and stories were very inspirational for many of the Drake and MUBS students.

Fellow Explorers of Uganda-
Do you think performances by the Mulago Drummer Group are an effective way of educating people on HIV and AIDS? Why or why not?
Did you learn anything new about HIV/AIDS during our visit?


  1. I loved the performance group at TASO! I was definitely one of the students who was inspired by their work. I believe that their songs are an effective way of educating people on this disease. We have seen repeatedly throughout our trip how important song and dance is in Ugandan culture. I think that relating song and dance and HIV/AIDS education is a way to get the message out when this topic is often difficult to talk about. I also thought that the openness of the members of the group was very inspiring and comforting, and I think that also helps with getting through to people. I think the biggest thing I learned during this visit was that it is possible for people who are HIV positive to lead normal lives, and even have healthy children!

  2. Great post Sammy! TASO was a great learning experience and I had a great time! Answering your questions I totally agree with Kristin, I think that the drum groups is doing a great job on educating people about HIV/Aids through song. The songs are catchy in a way that draws the audience, to where they audience is actually reatainting the Information that is being thrown at them. To answeryour second question, Iearned so much at TASO, I never thought that thought that there would be people who would of out into the community to give medication to the people who cannot come to the clinic. The other thing that I learned was that there were 4 different types of drug regements.

  3. Thanks for the post Sam!

    I found TASO to be a really interesting organization. I really liked how they supported their clients during all the stages of HIV. The drum group seemed to be really effective about educating communities about HIV. They essentially used culture as a form of education. The songs were easy to understand. However, the songs were in English. I wonder if they have songs in other languages to help address some of the problems regarding HIV that are seen in rural villages since HIV is more prevalent in those communities? Also, one of the major concerns I have regarding prevention education is a disconnect between practice and knowledge. For example, people can know the steps to prevent HIV and other STDs such as condom usage, but if these prevention methods are not available, will people actually change their behavior? I would be really interested in learning the way they have evaluated their programs.

  4. Awesome post Sam! I thought our trip to TASO was not only informational, but inspirational as well. Every person we came in contact with was filled with hope despite a situation that not too many years ago seemed hopeless. In terms of their education strategies, I think they are working quite well. Music is much easier to stay connected to than simply being talked at. The lyrics were serious and meaningful, and the songs are still stuck in my head, meaning they're doing their job!
    The most interesting thing I learned about HIV and AIDS is how very important the counceling aspect of treatment is. There is a great deal of mental and emotional stress attached to this disease, so the counceling treatment is crucial.
    I had a great day, and really enjoyed this experience!

  5. Sam. This post is so good. I loved it. Thank you.

    On the serious, the TASO organization was extremely eye opening. I agree with Emily that the counseling part is extremely important. While medication is extremely important, obviously, I think many people overlook the psychosocial aspect of an AIDS clinic. TASO supports not only the HIV positive person, but their family as well. They can change a person's outlook on life. The people we met were absolutely inspiring how much hope and happiness!

  6. I definitely think that the performance group was effective at communicating the message that TASO is hoping to spread about HIV/AIDS. Music is something that is easily able to attract the attention of many people who might otherwise not be receptive to the message that TASO is trying to spread. I think this is especially important in trying to gain the eyes and ears of children and young adults who have the potential to be affected by HIV/AIDS who might not be likely to pick up a book or pamphlet.
    I should also note that the songs are pretty catchy - at least I've had "Bridging the Gap" stuck in my head for the past two weeks. It might not seem like much, but if hundreds or even thousands of people are turning their attention towards this issue they are more likely to make a significant difference.

  7. Lisa Feldmann: Overall, I was extremely impressed with TASO's efforts and determination in HIV/AIDS prevention, support, treatment, and testing. I taped part of their music message because I thought it was an extremely innovative way to reach out to much of the Ugandan population. Since being in country, I've realized that often times, pamphlets are not the best way to communicate to a population important information because many people are illiterate and some do not share the same language. The music easily captures people's attention, is extremely informative and to the point, and present to its audience a comfortable, accepting, and hopeful atmosphere at TASO. .

  8. I think the Drummer Group is a great way to educate and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. Uganda’s culture has strong traditions of song and dance, like we witnessed at the Ndere Center. The songs are very catchy and upbeat which keep people interested in a topic that may otherwise not be discussed. HIV/AIDS is often a subject that isn’t openly discussed because people aren’t comfortable with it, so the songs allow people to learn without feeling uncomfortable. One of the biggest things I learned from the group members was that children with two positive parents can be born negative.