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TASO Mulago and Headquarters celebrate 28 years of service

Twenty eight (28) years ago today, the group of people who had been meeting informally within Mulago Referral Hospital premises and sometimes in their homes, to support people living with AIDS then, finally got a name. This name was The AIDS Support Organisation. Although not formally registered, they were a support group for patients and their family members who at the time were abandoned in hospital compound or in wards awaiting their final breath. 

This group was formally registered in 1991 as a Non-Governmental Organisation working in Uganda. Today, this group has grown to include people from all walks of like regardless of age, sex, race, religion or even political affiliation. With the fall in HIV related stigma and discrimination, more and more people are coming up to be identified with TASO.

To commemorate this day, this year the focus was put on the staff who work tirelessly to keep the organisation running. Representing the Executive Director at the function was the Director Human Resources and Administration Mrs. Lydia C. Tamale. She started by passing on greetings from the Executive Director - Dr. Etukoit - who was away attending a meeting in Nairobi. She then thanked all the clients for taking care of themselves well. She also thanked the staff for the good work they are doing. She encouraged the clients to support one another in the spirit of brotherhood (or sisterhood), saying that man is not an Island but rather a social being who needs to live in a community. She went on to encourage the staff to work hard to ensure that the dream of the founder members is not lost.

Mrs. Tamale informed the clients that the trend these days is to make the clients more and more responsible for their own health, and therefore as Director for Human Resources, she was encouraging them to ensure that they are qualified and ready to work as a team and only those who exhibited high level of professionalism and team spirit would be taken on as staff. In her remarks by encouraging everyone to be alert during these political times and not to let their political differences divide them. She concluded by quoting the verse in the Bible about Jesus telling the people that only those who fed him when he was hungry, gave him water to drink when he was thirst and clothed him when he was naked would be welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven. This was analogy alluding to the fact that only those who were willing to take care of their fellow clients as expert clients would be recognized for their services and rewarded accordingly. 

The new Centre Manager for TASO Mulago - Mr. Ceasar Mafabi, introduced himself and his team of staff. He shared a his own testimony about the challenges staff go through while performing their duties. For example, he had just concluded his 30 Post Exposure Prophylaxis because he had a wound which was exposed to blood from a patient he was helping who turned out to be HIV+. He went on to encourage the clients to look out for one another but also to appreciate the staff who offer them services. 

A prayer was led by one of the long serving client leaders and an expert client - Mr. Allan Lwasa and another testimony was given by Ms. Prossy Nalubowa who has been receiving services from TASO for the last 17 years.

The ceremony ended with a team of Staff and clients cutting and sharing a birthday cake.

*More about the history of TASO can be found in We Miss you All by Noerine Kaleeba and Sunanda Ray and also in United Against AIDS by Peter K. Sebbanja. Books can be bought from any TASO Center or at the Headquarters at 10,000 UGX or Online from Waterstones or Amazon at $ 15.30 for We Miss You All and £2.80 for United Against AIDS.


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