Fighting Pediatric AIDS in Uganda - Using Drama to Educate and Empower a Community
The third blog in our “Fighting Pediatric AIDS in Uganda” series explores the unique way one psychosocial support group is educating its community about HIV/AIDS. The RUPLWA group, or Rukoni People Living with HIV Association, is a drama and dance support group that travels around Ntungamo district using the power of performance to educate and change attitudes about HIV/AIDS. The group’s leader, Godfrey, shares his thoughts on the group’s involvement with the community below.
October 10, 2011
We are a group of 30 dancers and drummers using our dances and dramas to educate and sensitize communities to the issues surrounding HIV. We are based at the Kitwe Health Centre IV in Ntungamo district, but we visit communities in five surrounding counties.
RUPLWA members perform at Kitwe Health Clinic IV. (Photo: James Pursey)
Many of us are HIV-positive but we lead by example, taking care of ourselves and staying healthy. Of course, it’s better not to be HIV-positive in the first place. That’s the message we’re trying to communicate – prevent HIV infections and understand how to properly take care of yourself if you are HIV-positive.
Our dramas use familiar stories and songs that many people can identify with. We dance and act, breaking down barriers and creating a welcoming environment for people to talk and ask questions about HIV/AIDS.
A dramatic performance by a member of the RUPLWA drama group. (Photo: James Pursey)
The performance continues. (Photo: James Pursey)
(Photo: James Pursey)
Some of our dramas are specifically aimed to change male attitudes about HIV. Men think they can behave how they want and that children are a woman’s obligation. But when something like HIV enters a home, it affects the whole family, and men need to understand how to best support their families in a situation like that. Men respond well to our experience and approach, and once we educate them, they know that they can change.
Another goal of our outreach is to encourage HIV-positive women to return to clinics for HIV services and follow-up. Many of the mothers in our group have perfect, healthy children, proving the power of adherence.
The RUPLWA drama group performs for clinic attendees. (Photo: James Pursey)
In addition to dance and drama, our group offers other services. Some of us are expert clients who have been trained by clinic partners to counsel the communities we visit about drug adherence, home-based care, nutrition, and HIV and tuberculosis care, treatment, and prevention.
We come together to teach and support communities affected by HIV. But above all, we show how one can live positively with HIV. We give people hope and prove that you can be HIV-positive, live a full life, and help others.
Read the previous post in the "Fighting AIDS in Uganda" series here.
Sanyu Nkiinzi is a Communications and Outreach Officer for the Foundation, based in Uganda.