UGANET Legal team that had taken Susan to the ART facility for treatment.
Background: ‘Susan’ was referred to UGANET by center for domestic violence prevention (CEDOVIP) for legal support after health facilities and other partners had resisted to absorb her. Upon reaching UGANET, the 29 year old malnourished and homeless mother of two, living with HIV was assessed by the UGANET team. She said that her relatives especially the wife to her uncle had extremely discriminated her to the extent that she had to run away from her uncle’s home to live on the street with her 2 months baby and in an extremely poor health state (see figure 1 below). She said that she had lived in the cold on the street for close to a week and was not minding death since no one seemed to listen to her worries. She said she had had enough problems and going for medical support was not a priority since she enough problems.
Susan is like many whose medical problems are worsened by discrimination; isolation and other harsh conditions that force them either to refuse treatment or nutrition support or even commit suicide or die from depression related complications. Susan was forced to shift across three families from her in-laws where she was meant to deliver her second born from; to her paternal Aunt in Masaka 250kms away and later to her paternal uncle’s place 150kms away in Kampala; where she resigned to the streets since she had not option and could not cope with the discriminatory statements of her relatives. She further intimated to the UGANET lawyer (Barbra) that the high levels of discrimination compelled her not to enroll for ART and therefore her condition kept on worsening day by day.
Susan again was rejected at her Uncle’s home and now decided to go on street with her less than two months baby; where CEDOVIP picked her and brought her to UGANET. Even after repeated counselling sessions and stabilization by UGANET lawyers and social workers, in her own words she insisted that she did not want to go back to her Uncle’s place: “I do not want to go back to my uncle’s home because my aunt will mistreat me, I rather stay on the street with my baby if UGANET cannot help me live’’.
Assessment Results and response by UGANET.
The client lost her parents in 1992 and is a mother of two, the elder son is with his father in Mbarara while the father of the second child abandoned her three weeks towards delivery. When she was brought to UGANET Initial psychosocial assessment revealed that: she was depressed; she was mentally unstable, irritable; emancipated, could not walk, with a reckless and hopeless character. She was very rude and abusive to UGANET team that was supporting her and pathetic. Medical evaluations portrayed that she had uterine tract infection (UTI), candida and malaria; did not have enough blood (anemic), was not taking her HIV drugs, CD4 count was 25 and she is under weight. It was also discovered that the 2 months baby had never been immunized.
UGANET brought in expert counselors to complement supportive assessment and within seven days of medical; nutritional, psychological; tracing of her relatives while at UGANET; Susan regained her consciousness and started behaving normally.
Besides the medical support; Susan needed and was supported by UGANET with:
- Love and acceptance
- Psycho social support
- Contact and conversation with her partner who abandoned her with the second pregnancy and the partner committing to maintain the baby
- Tracing of her maternal relatives for possible re-unification
- Social protection in form of a temporary shelter and clothing because she did not have any clothes for herself and the less than two months baby
- Nutritional support and several medical checkups that helped to treat the multiple infections that she had developed.
- Helped treat the baby who had also developed complications was not breast feeding
- Contacting and counselling her relatives and organizing their conversations with her; for her to feel loved.
Without an approved shelter home and without a nearby alternative home by Government or partners; UGANET could not keep Susan for more than two weeks; a good Samaritan was brought on board who gave her a temporary shelter was and continued to support her from this temporary home.
Client regains her dignity; is loved by relatives and reunited with her family.
After like month; UGANET team successfully traced one of the other Susan’s uncles (maternal Uncle). Susan was extremely happy to see her uncle. Both were counseled and he took her to their home Ntungamo, south western Uganda. UGANET committed to conduct follows up through the region office in south western Uganda and all the relevant contacts were shared.
Natukunda and her uncle Re-united.
Susan – Six Months later:
- Natukunda is residing with her elderly step grandmother aged 75 and her grandfather aged 80.
- To mitigate the infections to the baby; step mother of Susan took over the care of the baby with some alternative feeding.
- UGANET coordinated the HIV testing for the baby and she is HIV negative.
- Susan’s status has since improved thanks to the reduced/eliminated worries about persecution, discrimination and abuses related to her HIV; poverty and unhealthy status that used to haunt her day and night.
Susan at her current Home in Ntungamo (taken during the UGANET Lawyer/social worker follow up visits).