World Renew’s partner in Uganda, Kabale People of Purpose, encounters these attitudes as critical barriers for men’s involvement in their HIV/AIDS programs. When addressing HIV and AIDS issues, individuals must expose their fears, anxieties, concerns, and limitations. The men were not comfortable doing this, because it could be seen as unmanly! So, using Men Who Care Clubs, headed by male champions who have broken free of stereotypical behaviour, Kabale People of Purpose is encouraging men to play their integral role in bringing about much-desired community transformation.
Herbert Karugaba is one such champion, and this is his story!
Herbert lives in Rwamugimba village in the Kabale District of Uganda. He is 41 years old, a married father of three.
Herbert is a member of the Men Who Care Club in his village. The club focuses on HIV counseling and testing, prevention, stigma, discrimination, and disclosure. When he joined the club, Herbert had never tested for HIV because he feared the results. And yet he dared not share that fear with others, lest he would be labeled “not a man!"
But as he consistently attended the club meetings, Herbert developed the confidence to be tested for HIV in one of World Renew’s monthly HIV Counseling and Testing camps held in Rwamugimba. Unfortunately the results showed that he was infected with HIV.
Herbert recalls that upon hearing this news he might have committed suicide, but with the support and education of the club, he was encouraged and determined to cope. The HIV Innovation Project offered theatre presentations and classes to help reduce the stigma and discrimination against people with HIV. The Men Who Care club had offered a different ideal for a “real man.” As a result, Herbert developed the confidence to freely disclose his status in public and among his peers without fear.
Herbert is now one of the facilitators promoting voluntary testing, and he is a counselor for those who are HIV positive - a real champion.
World Renew Uganda