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Four One One

From testing HIV-positive to nursing a broken heart

Everyone does go through challenging and difficult times. Some of these moments can be so tough that they have the power to tear one apart

THEIR LOWEST MOMENTS: Everyone does go through challenging and difficult times. Some of these moments can be so tough that they have the power to tear one apart. ESTHER OLUKA spoke to a few youth who spoke about their toughest moments in their lives and how they managed to cope.

Fiona Kakai, 28, waitress
“My lowest moment was in 2008. I was eight months pregnant when I went for my routine antenatal check-ups and the doctor asked that I take an HIV test before I could give birth. I had never done an HIV test before, so, when the doctor suggested the idea, I did not know what to expect. I fainted when the results came back I tested HIV-positive. I regained consciousness 30 minutes later and broke down over the news. When I got home, I told my husband and I was deeply touched when he comforted and assured me everything would be alright. Days later, he also tested and was found negative. Despite the difference in our status, my husband continued caring and supporting me. Regardless, I was not okay. I was still very shocked by the news. I continued to cry and eventually got depressed. At some point, I thought of killing myself to end my misery. At that time, I thought my world had ended. It was such a difficult time for me.
My turning point was when I had the baby. Everything completely changed. It was no longer about me but the baby. I had to stop being selfish by putting the baby’s needs first. So I decided to seek counselling from one of the doctors who had handled me during the antenatal visits. My husband was also very supportive, which made things even easier. I started fully adhering to my medication. Also, I accepted my condition and today, I am living positively.”

Housen Mushema

Housen Mushema, 26, actor
“I remember the time my father was really ill and my mother was not doing well financially. I was about to sit my final Senior Six examinations and I had only paid a quarter of the school fees. As expected, the school demanded that all candidates first complete the fees. As the due date for the examinations approached, a teacher went around the different classrooms reading out fees defaulters. I was sent home and was there for about three weeks. When I reported back to school, the syllabus was completely covered and my classmates were far ahead. Lucky enough, I had a few friends who helped me catch up. However, two weeks to the exams, I was summoned again and I remember walking out of the class standing out of the school gate for hours trying to reason with the teacher to excuse me. My explanations and pleas fell on deaf ears.

Dealing with the issue
The following day, I reached out to the school principal. I explained to him everything and requested that they let me sit for the exams. I promised him that I would pay the balance, and, in case I failed to do so, they would retain my results. He asked that I put my promise in writing. I was the last student to receive an examination card. It was a tough experience, and I would never wish it on any student.”

Janet Frances Maruk


Janet Frances Maruk, model
“My lowest moment in life was losing my father in 2007. It was a very difficult time for the family. The responsibility of looking after the family remained solely on mummy who works as a farmer in Katakwi District. I have five siblings. Daddy was a hardworking, loving and caring husband and father. He provided for most of our home needs. However, after his passing, the situation at home drastically changed. My siblings and I had to work tirelessly to help mummy. Since we could no longer afford some of the luxuries we previously had, we had to adjust and be contented with whatever was available. We missed having daddy around.
Coping with the loss
From time to time, my mother comforted us by assuring us that things would be alright, that she would do her best to provide and take care of us. She did everything within her power to see that we also got an education, which is very important. Her presence in our lives helped my siblings and I deal with the loss. She is a phenomenal woman who uplifted us through that trying time.”

Rosalynn Nankya, 28, PhD student

Rosalynn Nankya, 28, PhD student

“In, 2016, I was awarded a scholarship to pursue a PhD in Chemistry at Dongguk University in South Korea. The programme would last three years and six months. I began my studies in September 2016 and I was very excited. However, along the way, I found it difficult to adjust to the new environment.

The weather was different so I used to get a cold almost every winter and then I was forced to always prepare my meals since I had trouble eating their food. I felt ignored at times and we had laboratories where I was the only African student.
My laboratory mates at times talked to themselves and I would feel bad. I was homesick and almost gave up.

Coping mechanism
I shared my difficulties with my father and he often motivated me and encouraged me to push on. Over time, I started visiting other departments to interact with other foreign students. I would go and talk to them during lunch breaks and ask for advice, especially on how they used to deal with their different respective professors.
In order to cope with home sickness, I decided to visit Uganda from time to time. In the meantime, I have decided to focus and concentrate on my books so that I can graduate on time. That is my biggest motivation. I will complete my studies this year and will graduate next year in 2020.”

Gerald Okure, 30, self-employed
“My lowest moment was in 2016 when my girlfriend left me to marry an older, rich man. I was still looking for a job and staying at my parents’ house. Before she left me, I had started suspected something fishy. She stopped returning my calls and would always make up excuses when I wanted to see her. Little did I know that she was fooling around with another man. She just woke up one day and said she was tired of the relationship and did not see any future in me. A few months later, she introduced the other man and married him. What broke me the most was that she splashed the photos of both events all over Facebook. That was the most hurtful thing, seeing another man officially take the girl that I still loved. It broke me so much. I cried endlessly.
Healing after the breakup was not easy. I took one day at a time hoping that the pain would end one day. My parents were very supportive and they understood what had happened and offered me advice from time to time. As a way of trying to forget her, I unfriended her on Facebook and deleted her contact. Overtime, my heart slowly started to heal and I moved on with my life.”

Hilary Niwamanya, 23, Mr Y+
“I was studying at St. Mbuga Vocational Secondary School in Makindye. In my Senior Three, my mother decided that I transfer to St. Henry’s College, Gangu-Busabala, reasoning that the school was near home and therefore, would be easier for me to move to and fro and also that it would be convenient for me to easily access treatment since I am a person living with HIV. I joined the school but failed to adapt to the new environment, so I ended up hating it – badly. I hated studies and sometimes dodged classes, especially those affiliated with science. I also deliberately became naughty as a tactic to get kicked out of the school. But I was not kicked out.
While in Senior Three third term, a student from my former school, St. Mbuga joined our class. I discovered along the way that we had similar interests and became very good friends. Our friendship still thrives up to now.”

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