His drinking caused a lot of problems within his family. “Most of the time,” says the 35-year-old father of four, “I would get home past midnight, when my wife and children had already gone to sleep. My wife and I could hardly talk to each other. There was no peace at home because every time I came home under the influence, I would mistreat my wife and children, sometimes even forcing them to sleep outside. My children hated me because I had failed to provide them with school fees and parental love.” His marriage was suffering. “My wife became suspicious that I was having affairs,” he explains “since I had stopped providing for my family, and she denied me sex. She feared so much that I was HIV-positive because we had never tested as a couple and shared results.”
But in 2015, Niwagaba joined a Men Who Care club in his village of Ahamugwigwi in the community of Kyanamira. As he attended meetings, he learned the importance of being tested for HIV/AIDs. He was afraid of being tested but, he says, “when I heard testimonies from fellow men who had tested and shared the results with their spouses, I decided to also go and be tested”. He did not have HIV/AIDs and, he says happily, “after I was tested, I shared the results with my wife and this has healed our marriage and even increased intimacy”.
Niwagaba has been a committed member of the club ever since and, in February 2016, he was chosen to be a Male Champion, responsible for talking about HIV/AIDs and gender-related issues with other men. He has stopped drinking, joined a village savings and loan group, and started rearing chickens. With a happy smile, he says “My wife now loves me and my children are respecting me. I am a responsible and caring father and a husband who also cares for the community.”
Niwagaba is reaching out to other men and sharing his story with them, with the goal of seeing change in his community. His relationship with wife continues to improve and they attend couple club meetings together, as well as attending monthly HIV Counselling and Testing outreach in their community. He now operates a boda boda (motorcycle) business to generate income to support his family.
World Renew Uganda