Wednesday 23rd January 2013, TASO commemorated Christopher Kaleeba Day(CKD) in all its service centres and units accross the country. CKD is a forum for HIV/AIDS advocacy in TASO. It is aimed at re-enforcing commitment to the HIV/AIDS response among TASO staff, volunteers, clients and governance members and mobilizing members of the community and general public to join the TASO membership movement. The day is commemorated on 23rd January to celebrate the life of the founder of TASO, Christopher Keleeba whose life was snatched by AIDS in 1987. The theme for this year's commemoration is “Bonding as a family; a central pillar in the fight to defeat HIV”. A media article to mark this day has been published for your sharing.
THE AIDS SUPPORT ORGANISATION (TASO)
“Bonding as a family; a central pillar in the fight to defeat HIV”
In the early 1980’s when the first cases of AIDS were reported in Uganda nobody easily understood the extent to which this disease would affect the entire socio-cultural and politico-economic wellbeing of the people. Soon this disease began spreading like bush fire, wiping out entire families and communicates at the backdrop of ignorance about the disease and unprecedented stigma, discrimination and hatred directed towards people and families associated with AIDS. Over 30 years gone and HIV/AIDS remains a big challenge to the entire world.
At that time there were no established support systems in the country, living the burden of care for the infected persons entirely on the shoulders of their families. The families had little they could do for their loved ones and were resigned to their fate. In 1986 Christopher and Noerine Kaleeba resolved to do something to change the situation. Their experience with AIDS sowed the seed for the birth of The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in 1987, after the sad demise of Christopher Kaleeba on 23rd January.
The founding of TASO was premised on a need to provide compassion to persons and families affected by AIDS so they could feel accepted as human beings with dignity and their hope to live on restored. The experience of the Kaleeba family has shown that bonding together as a family builds a force that can confront insurmountable challenges and contribute to the wellbeing of affected people and families. This idea of family bonding has since remained a core value in the work of TASO.
Amidst the high stigma and discrimination directed towards persons and families associated with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic in Uganda, TASO maintained a non-written open reception policy to all people seeking help. This made the initiative an oasis for restoring hope to affected persons and families. With this practice, many more people came into contact with TASO, where they accessed compassionate care, a package of positive living and sensitization on HIV prevention, care and support.
Right from the outset TASO recognized that sharing of factual information about HIV/AIDS was vital in the reduction of stigma and discrimination, the then key drivers of the epidemic. The opportunity to share the TASO experiences was made practical as the organisation recognized everybody as part of the response. Success in the HIV/AIDS response needs galvanized capabilities and efforts of everyone at individual, family, community and institutional level. This is what the TASO family spirit and movement philosophy is about. Over the years, individuals, community groups and institutions subscribe to the TASO movement, to identify with the HIV/AIDS response and to offer their unique competencies in contributing to preventing further spread of HIV and improving the quality of lives of persons, families and communities affected by the HIV and AIDS.
At the institutional level, the TASO value of the family spirit is an invitation to all staff members and volunteers to do their very best and support each other in an open and frank way at all times of joy, challenges and stress both at work and in personal live. In that way, institutions will have a committed and motivated human resource force to achieve better results and a sustained response to the epidemic.
TASO is celebrating 26 years of great HIV/AIDS service and this has flourished due to the unique family spirit among other intricately related factors. TASO calls upon all Ugandans to embrace the family sprit in HIV prevention, care and support for defeating HIV as we celebrate the life of Christopher Kaleeba (RIP).
Zero new HIV infections, Zero Stigma and Discrimination, Zero AIDS related Deaths!
We thank all Ugandans who have rallied behind TASO through subscription as members
TASO acknowledges the support from the partners to her efforts and in the publication of this brief.
23rd January 2013