A Community Watchdog helps to identify Property Rights violations
When Eunice Aporu went to attend an ART clinic at Lira Referral Hospital and refill her medication, her adherence counselor noticed that something was amiss. Her weight had dropped by 5 kilograms, yet she had previously been responding well to her HIV treatment. Aporu was taken for a counseling session to find out what was ailing her and the truth came to light. She was hoarding the medicine.“I had stopped taking my medication because my brother-in-law was harassing me. He was stopping me from selling a cow to pay school fees for my children. I said if I was not going to be of any use to my children I might as well was die,” she says.
Aporu’s husband left her with property including land and cows. As it is tradition among the Langi people, the clan appointed her brother-in-law to help oversee the family affairs. To assert his authority, he stopped her from selling any property, even it meant that her children dropped out of school. Any attempt to sell a cow and raise her son’s school fees would be curtailed by the brother-in-law saying that she did not have any right to the clan property.
Agustine Oryo is the adherence counselor; Watchdog and expert clientwho identified that Aporu’s health had started failing. He is a person living with HIV who was trained by UGANET works as a volunteer community watchdog based at Lira Referral Hospital. “When UGANET came to Lira I was one the first people to register. As a member you have to contribute by helping other people living with HIV” says Oryo. “Since I volunteer in the hospital, I help clients who come with problems especially widow and orphans. When they raise a complaint, I always refer them to UGANET Lira branch,” he adds.
“The common problem we have been getting from widows is land wrangling. When a husband dies, you find that the brothers or the clan try to take away the land and other property. Then for the orphans you find that the property a father or mother leaves, is grabbed by other people,” says Oryo. In addition he handles cases of abandonment of children by fathers especially when a man finds out that the mother is HIV positive.
Every morning before the HIV clinic starts Oryo gives a talk about adherence to medication. He helps identify client files take the weight. He then offers counseling to those with human rights infringements and helps arrangemediation meetings with family or clan members. The experience and training that Oryo has puts him in a position of essence. He helped arrange for a mediation meeting between Eunice Aporu’s family and her clan.
In the meeting it was resolved that Aporu should manage her family property and look after her children.“UGANET has helped me, my health was failing. My children had dropped out of school because I could not afford school fees. Now my daughter is completing senior four and my son is in a boarding school,” says Aporu. Her adherence to treatment is impeachable. She has regained the weight she had lost. According to Oryo, patients he helps are healthier after resolving problems their social problems.