Joyce's story - empowering disabled clients with services in rural communities
Joyce Auma, 25, is a business administration graduate currently working as a data clerk with Gulu Women with Disabilities Union.
The union has partnered with Reproductive Health Uganda to extend sexual and reproductive health services to women living with disabilities in Gulu and neighbouring districts in Acholi.
Joyce, who lost the use of her legs in childhood, is one of the women with disabilities that normally receive services at Gulu Clinic.
“I found out about RHU because they are our partners at Gulu Women with Disability Union. I first came to the clinic to test for HIV and other STIs. We also receive their other services like family planning and cancer screening to people with disabilities.”
“The first time I came here I was warmly welcomed. They're very good at talking to the youth. Though the place was new for me, I was given service as if it was not my first time.” Says Joyce. "Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. People around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don’t fall sick.”
Joyce has since been a regular client of RHU for HIV testing, cancer screening and other diseases. She says her status exposes her to many risks of infection which has to be regularly checked for.
“I always come here for testing, there is also cancer screening. They don’t segregate me because of my disability. They give you the services you need.”
Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda
7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead
"Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month."
8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer
"I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here"
9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story
"I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring."
10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning
"After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh."
11am: Vicky, handling disabilities
"I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language."
12pm: Dorcus, first time patient
"This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming."
1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV
"I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer."
2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell
" I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it."
3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments
"Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment."
4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability
"I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick."
5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages
"Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more."
22pm: Still giving the last client our very best
"Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope."