Akello Rose is a widow, living with HIV. She has three children, two boys and one girl. She tells the story of how miserable life was after the loss of her husband. She was left with nothing and reduced to a beggar, begging for food, water, money to go to the hospital, money to feed and dress her children. She had no self-esteem and lacked the confidence to speak up before people in her community. She felt reduced to nothing.
When World Renew and our local partner, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, came to Akello Rose’s community of Agereger in the Katakwi District, a pioneer group was taken through a Stepping Stones training, where participants were allowed and encouraged to talk openly about HIV/AIDS. In that setting, Akello was able to disclose her HIV status.
“Stigma ends with disclosure,” she says. “When I disclosed my status, I was free. I could talk to other people about living a life that would keep them away from HIV, and encourage those who were positive, like me, to live positively. In the Stepping Stones group, I gained confidence. I could speak about health issues. I could represent my community at meetings, and the community members respected and listened to me.”
Akello Rose is now the Local Council 1 Chairperson for her village. She has benefitted from other World Renew-supported projects, including the Embrace AIDs project, through which she received a dairy cow. Through her local Village Savings and Loan program, she has been able to access loans with which she has opened a retail shop in her community, and started baking bricks for a commercial building. Akello Rose has taken advantage of enterprise planning and development training, where she learned about crop diversification. She now grows both short and long-term crops that ensure her household is food-secure year-round.
Rose speaks with passion about her journey, and shows off her brick house and tin-roofed commercial building with pride. Her story has dramatically changed for good, and other people can see and learn from her example. She believes that other people in her community can experience this transformation under her leadership, and World Renew stands ready to support her.
World Renew East Africa