Susan* lost her mother in 1999 when she was only two years old. Her father separated from her mother before she was born, so Susan’s grandmother, Dora, started looking after her and three of her cousins, who had also been orphaned. The family lives in Otuboi sub-county, Kaberamaido District in eastern Uganda in a one-room grass-thatched mud-and-wattle structure, which serves as a kitchen, storage, and bedroom.
By the time Susan was four years old, she began becoming sick frequently. She lost weight and was weak. A community resource person visited the family and advised Grandma Dora to take Susan for an HIV test. The test revealed that Susan was HIV positive, and her immune system had become very weak. She was immediately started on anti-retroviral therapy.
In 2008, when Susan was 11 years old, the Civil Society Fund (CSF) sub-grantee Feed the Children Uganda (FTCU) started a program
targeting youth between the ages of 10 and 24 living with HIV/AIDS in Susan’s home parish, to support them and their families to start income-generating activities. The CSF is funded by USAID, the U.K. Department for International Development, Irish Aid, Danish International Development Agency, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. CSF funds 80 civil society organizations in Uganda to provide harmonized and streamlined HIV/AIDS and orphans and other vulnerable children services that are aligned with national plans and policies.
Susan was among 10 children selected by FTCU in her parish, which is one of 14 parishes covered by FTCU. She was given 50,000 Uganda shillings ($19) to start an income-generating project with the help of her grandmother. They opted for a goat-rearing project and used the initial capital to buy one goat. The goat has since given birth three times, producing six goats.
When Susan became ill in 2010 and was admitted to the hospital, her grandmother sold one of the goats to pay for her hospital costs. That same year, FTCU gave Susan another 50,000 shillings, which she and her grandmother spent on food and milk for the family, improving Susan’s diet and boosting her immunity system. The next time Susan received money from FTCU, she decided to buy two chickens. Their eggs would not only provide a better diet for Susan and her family, but could also be sold in the local market and provide income. The FTCU also pays for Susan’s schooling, which she is eager to attend now that she is strong and healthier. The organization also gives her cousins scholastic materials.
Susan and her grandmother are grateful for the support they have been given and are planning to expand their income-generating activities by using some of their savings to buy a cow and sell milk. CSF has to date supported 90,674 orphans and vulnerable children with a range of protection, care, and support services.
*Names have been altered for confidentiality.