Margrethe Junker

Ashoka Fellow
Uganda,
Fellow Since 2004
Reach Out Mbuya

Citation

This profile was prepared when Margrethe Junker was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Uganda is widely promoted in the international community as a “success story” in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS, but many people, particularly the urban poor, still have only limited access to care, support and treatment. When the immune system becomes compromised by HIV/AIDS, opportunistic infections take over; the most threatening to individuals and communities being tuberculosis. All too quickly, an HIV positive family member can be viewed as a burden and experience heartbreaking isolation. To help bring medical care and support to the poor communities in Uganda’s cities, Margrethe has developed a community volunteer program called “Reach Out–Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative” which trains and employs people with HIV to work as caretakers and supporters for one another. Her model includes counseling, testing, medical treatment and social support through microfinance and other income generating activities, giving people a chance to regain physical health and also become able to financially support themselves and their families. The clients are empowered to support themselves and others in all aspects of the program. As people receive early treatment for opportunistic infections and anti-retroviral drugs when needed, training and opportunities for self-help, they continuously get stronger and healthier. Moreover, they gain confidence and strength and take leadership roles in the community and defy social isolation.
Throughout the community of more than 60,000 slum dwellers, Margrethe has reached more than 3,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and their families by harnessing them into a self-help force that allows ordinary people to access information, improve their health, and run home care facilities for the bedridden, and support each other in income-generating activities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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