Source: Daily Monitor
I thought the Girl Power conference 2011 would be about preaching and more preaching but this wasn’t the case. The conference that ran with the theme, To Live or not to Leave was dedicated to all the people that are currently living with HIV. The conference took place on Tuesday, 20 December at the Rubaga Centre.

Different people from all walks of life told their stories of how they have managed to live with the virus positively. 

Major Rubaramira Ruranga, the executive director of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network of people living with HIV/Aids was also one of the speakers to tell his experience. He has lived with HIV/AIDS for the last 28 years. He acquired the virus at a time when the stigma was at its high because many people didn’t understand the disease.

“I never got a promotion again after I declared that I was HIV positive,” he said and added that though a number of people think that the men who are positive are not bothered about it, it’s quite the opposite. He says, “We go through the hustles, we just do not talk.” He is married to three wives who have children with him.

The story of Jackie Kemigisha a 27 year old who acquired HIV through rape and has decided to dedicate her life to empower all those living with HIV/AIDS was also food for thought for the congregation. Before she accepted her status a few years back, she weighed 39kgs but she has gained 16 more kilos.

For Rev Canon William Mugisha and his wife, Pamela who are both positive, their story was that they accepted their situation and when they decided to have children, they made it a point to seek for help so that their children are negative. They have two children, Hope and Rukundo.

Over the years, the fight against AIDS in the country has been a success and many more people have come out to declare their status. Pastor Jessica Kayanja who was the host at the conference said that despite that there is still some stigma.

While it’s easy for a person to come to her and say pray for my mother she is blind, it will be hard for one to say it with AIDS. She advised that AIDS should not mean the end of one’s life but rather “a path because we are all destined to special places”.

The congregation was encouraged to test for HIV to know their status, treat the sick and also preach about it.

It was a bright evening because of the choice of the colour for the dress code. The dress code was Indian wear in seasonal colours. Most people followed the dress code to the dot. There was entertainment from Julie Mutesasira and Irene Namubiru, Isaiah Katumwa and Judith Babirye.

The choir sang one of Philly Lutaaya’s songs as a tribute to him as one of the first man to openly declare his HIV status publicly. Then dinner was served later and people departed at leisure. It was sponsored by Saturday Monitor, Mirinda, a product of Crown Beverages Company and Channel 44. 

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