Today, we spent our morning at The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) near Mulago Hospital. TASO, which was formed in 1987, aims to help Ugandans live positively with AIDS and provides services such as counseling, medical services, advocacy, and prevention operations for no cost.
Upon arriving to TASO, we split into two groups and toured the facility. We were very impressed by both the structure number of clients being served – an average of 200 per day!
Clients Waiting to Be Served Outside TASO Mulago
During the rest of our tour, we visited the counseling center, medical wing, and pharmacy. We finally ended up at the Children’s Care Centre, where HIV+ and HIV- children wait while their parents are treated. To see these kids interact was incredible - as one staff member pointed out, we could not tell at first glance which kids had HIV and which did not. This just goes to show that stigma with HIV/AIDS has changed drastically over the past 30 years!
Inside the Children's Care Centre
For many of us, the highlight of our visit to TASO was interacting with the singing/dance troupe. These individuals are all HIV+ and receive services from TASO. Their group performs in villages across Uganda to provide education about HIV. The money the group earns from performing goes to fulfill their basic needs and to support TASO.
Performance Troupe at TASO
The final event of our visit was to hear the testimony of one young woman who has benefitted from TASO’s services. As she described, she became HIV+ after she was raped by a man who had promised to provide her school fees. When she told her employer she was HIV+, she was fired. With TASO’s help, she was able to join the performance group, and has since married a man who is also HIV+. The woman and her husband now have two children together, both of whom do not have HIV! It was amazing to hear how TASO benefits community members.
How do Reach Out Mbuya and The AIDS Support Organisation differ? Is one more effective than the other? What was your favorite part of our visit to TASO?