Getrude Nalukwata is an orphan we have known for years from our visits to Uganda at Lubaga Hospital through our partner Resty Ndagano. She has always impressed us with her bravery and determination. Getrude lost both her parents to AIDS at a very early age and with the support of Resty and Aktion Canchanabury, she now works as a nurse in a permanent position and is now supporting an HIV-positive orphan herself.
Getrude makes it clear to us that our support for the AIDS orphans really helps. The orphan programme of the Lubaga Hospital is the only chance for the kids to escape the cycle of poverty. There are many children who are growing up in a similar situation to Getrude's and they too have a right to education and care.
Here she told us her story:
My name is Getrude Nalukwata, I come from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. I am a trained nurse and work in a government hospital in the HIV/AIDS ward. I am 28 years old. I come from a family of six children. Five girls and one boy. I am the fourth born. I am a full orphan. My parents died when I was a little girl. I was six years old then.
We were still very young. After our parents died, my eldest sister took over responsibility for us. She was 12 years old at the time and was in fifth grade. She became the head of our family. It was not easy for us to grow up without our parents, a sad, a difficult time. We went to bed hungry and once we got sick, we had no money to get medical care. We suffered. It was not easy to make ends meet, it was not easy to survive. Of the people around us, no one cared about us. We had no one, we were neglected and discriminated against. Everyone thought we were HIV positive too and they all wanted nothing to do with supposedly sick people. Then we were tested and the test was negative for all of us. We all lived together in a small shack in our village. But above all, we lacked the love of our parents.
At some point we got lucky!
A woman came to us. Sister Resty Ndagano had heard about us children, about the six children who were growing up without parents. She came to us and literally saved us. Through her, we came to the AIDS orphans programme at Lubaga Hospital. This meant a completely new life for us. Through the programme, we were all able to attend school. We were very happy. I was able to train as a nurse after secondary school.
My parents didn't just die of AIDS, they had no schooling, they didn't know about medicines or that there was such a thing as health care. They would certainly have lived longer if they had had anyone to help them.
My dream was to become a nurse and help other orphans
I went to school and did the training, now I help people who have HIV.
I feel responsible to help children who face the same problems as my siblings and me. From the little salary I draw, I support a little boy whose parents also died of AIDS. I tell him not to be sad. I tell him: You are not alone. I am your sister.
I am happy to be able to take care of an orphan. I am grateful that my education was financed. I am happy that my siblings and I are doing well now - thanks to your donations! The six of us were able to attend school, do our education and are now all working in our professions thanks to your support. Our big sister, who took care of all of us for so long, is happily married and has three healthy children.