UK Registered Charity No.1127562. Uganda NGO LDLG/11/2030
Lily is around 22 years old but when we found her begging in the market she appeared a very thin sick young girl. Her lips were cracked and white and her eyes bright red. We brought her to stay with us in our office in Uganda. After health checks we found her state to be seriously affected by HIV.
Life for Lily has not been easy. She explained to us that she was on the street because the remainder of her family believed that her HIV could kill them and so she was banished to a life of begging to survive. For three years this was her life.
Today I visited Lilly Auma again in her village of Apala in Northern Uganda with the manager of One Step at a Time Isaac Okwir. Our mode of transport was a motor bike as in the bush there is no access to the home by vehicle. The road to Apala is one of the worst in the district and we bounced around pot holes and rocks in the road, increasing our journey.
When we reached the home we were sorry Lilly was not there but happy to hear that she had walked with her mum to the market 3km’s away from home. She was healthy.
We found her sitting behind a stall roasting meat, everyone here survives on beans and maize but Lilly wants meat and eggs. Who can blame her? Sadly there is no money for meat for Lilly but the smell was satisfying her.
It was reassuring to see her well although a lot thinner than before.
Lilly was happy to tell her story to the world to let me people across the world know the difficulties that not just she, but thou¬sands of others in North¬ern Uganda have and continue to suffer.
‘’I lived deep in the village where early marriages are very common. I was 15 when my husband was found for me. I was happy when I gave birth to a baby girl but sadly and very commonly, my baby died. My husband was a soldier and when the rebel force LRA started their murders my husband was sent to fight them. I was so sad when he was killed by these rebels and I was alone without my husband and my baby.
Because I was alone I went back to live with my family, but at the time of insurgency by the rebels thousands of people from the villages had to run from our villages to internal displacement camps across the Northern Region and they called us IDPs. My camp was near to the army barracks and those soldiers should protect us.
One day people came shouting that we should run as the rebels were coming to kill us. We left our hut and ran to the soldier’s barracks but the rebels same in between and I was shot in the arm. When I fell down that same soldier beat my mother and she now has no sight in her eye. When the rebels had gone and we went to our hut there was nothing like food to eat and the shelter was bad. I happened to go to the hospital and I was told my status was HIV positive. I was very sad.
When I told my family of my status they chased me away from home because they believed they could catch it from me. I had one set of clothing that I had when my husband died and nothing else and so I went with my friend to the town. I was thinking that it would be better in town. My friend was taken by a certain man and they wanted me to also go with a man but I knew my status and I did not want to get any infection from a man or to give any disease to any other member of the community, so I stayed alone in the town. Again there was no food, no work and no shelter. I borrowed money and food from many people and I slept under verandas and in the open market. I was fearing this life. I sat every day in a very dirty corridor to beg for money from strange people.
One day a ‘muzungu’ (white person) was coming into the corridor and I couldn’t believe she was speaking to me. She sat with me in the mud but I did not understand English. She asked someone to help and we talked. She called the office and I went on a boda boda (bicycle taxi) to the One Step at a Time office. Another muzungu was also there.
One Step at a Time gave me washing basins, soap, and even a small house with mat and mosquito net, food and the thing called Hug. I prayed at night to thank God for One Step at a Time. They saved my life. I was singing praising God that I had some help to get me a life. I told them my story and they all listened to me well.
They took me for medication and gave me good food, I went to church with Sandra and we prayed together. They took me for medication and gave me good food, I went to church with Sandra and we prayed together. They talked about my positive status and how it had affected my life. Their suggestion to ex¬plain the effects of HIV to my family was good and I went on the motor bike to home. My mother was very happy to receive me and they said I could live there again as I could not infect them.
Some help came from Lianne and Lorna in England to build my own hut. Sandra gave me shoes from her mother which were very smart and I was happy. Then Linda and Vicky also helped me. I am so happy for these friends in England who love me.
One Step at a Time took me home, with sauce¬pans, cups, maize, beans and many things. They always support me with the medicine for my status and I am feeling very ok. When I have been in hospital they have visited me and helped me to eat and pay fees.
Now some NGO is giving free posho to people with my status and I have paid the money to register but have received no food. One Step at a time are helping me with that.
I cannot say so many thank you’s as Osaat has helped so much and saved my life and lives of others. I now have hope in life and many friends in England and in Uganda Osaat who are loving me. God Bless you all. Please tell everyone of the need of my people and of the great Osaat.
If Lily’s story touched your heart as it did ours please also reach out into the world to make a difference.