Josephine, Uganda – In February 2004, my husband succumbed to what many people were convinced was witchcraft. I later realized he had AIDS. My in-laws took away whatever remained from my children and me.
My transition from housewife to working single mother was not easy because I had no formal skills at all. As if this wasn’t enough, the stigma attached to being an HIV+ widow was another obstacle, as many people found it very hard to employ me. My children couldn’t play with others in the neighbourhood; they were always chased away. This was such a hard time for me but as a mother I was responsible for my children so I had to be strong.
After failing to meet basic costs like food for the children, house rent, medical bills and school fees, I felt so hopeless. All I knew was that death would come next. I fell very will and couldn’t afford medication. Then someone who was being supported by the Jesuit Solidarity Fund advised me to register for ARVs and introduced me to Fr John Legge.
Fr John has helped me since 2006. I receive help for food, house rent, medical treatment as well as schooling for my children. Interacting with other women of the Solidarity Fund, I have learned how to set up a small business. Right now I sell bananas at a roadside market near my home. With the little I save from this business, I struggle to pay fees for my oldest son who has joined Kyambogo University to pursue a course in engineering. My youngest daughter performed very well in the primary leaving examinations and was granted a scholarship at Ocer Campion Jesuit College through the efforts of Fr John.
The story is not over yet. I still dream of acquiring a piece of land where I can construct a house so that my children can have a permanent place to call home. With improved health and support from the Solidarity Fund, I hope I will make it. Thanks for giving us a second chance in life.
Fr John Legge SJ adds: “Josephine has been going through quite a few painful and partly disabling years with what seems to be related to some kind of arthritis. She has mostly managed by herself to get her oldest son to his scholarship at university, with a lot of determination, trust in God, and courage on her part. I hope her story can be an inspiration to other widows, in situations similar to her own, and also show donors that comparatively small amounts of money, added to what Josephine earned in low paying part-time jobs, have managed to keep her reasonably healthy and her family together and going to school.”