An inspiring doctor and orange sweet potatoes


Dr. Edith began working in Mengo Hospital’s HIV /AIDS clinic as a young doctor during the 90s when AIDS was still highly stigmatized.  At that time, the clinic had very few resources for HIV patients, no drugs available to treat them, and had a hard time recruiting doctors and nurses to work with them.  Although Dr. Edith never though she would work with HIV clients long term, she eventually developed a strong sense of compassion for her clients and a determination to help improve their lives.  She eventually began working in another hospital, but when Mengo was looking for a director of the HIV/AIDs program she took a significant pay cut to return to the clinic where she had started out.

Dr. Edith has worked tirelessly to improve the clinic and the lives of the patients, with tremendous success.  She is extremely knowledgeable and well respected, and recently presented a paper on HIV and TB at an international HIV/AIDS conference in Washington DC.

Dr. Edith is in touch with the challenges of her patients, and is always trying to think of ways to empower them and improve their lives.  One of the biggest challenges for many people living with HIV/AIDS in Kampala is getting adequate nutrition to help them remain strong and healthy.   For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, getting proper nutrition is essential for them to produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months, the current WHO recommendation for HIV positive mothers.
In an effort to address this problem, Dr Edith has put together a proposal for a nutrition project targeting 300 of Mengo’s patients who are underweight and malnourished.   Mengo Hospital is a long time partner of MCC Uganda, and we’ve been working closely with Dr. Edith as she has developed this project.  We are excited that we were recently able to approve it for funding, and it will begin in the next few weeks.
The main focus of the project is to train the beneficiaries how to grow orange sweet potatoes, and to provide them with vines so that they can plant and harvest the sweet potatoes.  The anticipated outcomes are:
–          Because orange sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A and other vitamins, consumption of the sweet potatoes by the beneficiaries will improve their nutrition
–          Beneficiaries will be given enough vines to have a significant surplus of the potatoes which they can sell to earn an income.   With additional income, the beneficiaries should be able to purchase a wider variety of food for themselves which will improve their nutrition
–          They will also be trained on how orange sweet potatoes can be dried and ground into flour.  This flour can then be used to make things like doughnuts, chapattis, and maandazis.  With this knowledge, the beneficiaries can begin small businesses selling these items which can earn them extra income.
For the first four months of the project, while the beneficiaries are planting the potatoes and waiting for the harvest, Mengo will provide them with supplementary food baskets.
I have been very inspired by Dr. Edith’s knowledge, hard work, and her compassion for those affected by HIV/AIDS, and I am looking forward to seeing how this project will turn out.

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