Kampala Tatler # 21: ‘Conversation Café’ in Kampala Makes Eradicating HIV a Dinner Party Topic

OMG! Exclaimed Taraj, Alexa and Rukia ( all these being their Drag names) 

The first 'Conversation Cafe' in Kampala was setting off.

22 members had come to attend this event and the central idea was planning at least three questions under the theme: 'toward the end of HIV!'

This 'Conversation Café' was at Centenary House, hosted by 5 organizations.

The guests who came that evening had shared this information via a Whatsapp group. They had everything scripted. They called their Whatsapp Group the Kampala Conversation Cafe Inspirers-KCCI.

They laid down three rules:

1. Strictly concern themselves with HIV testing, linking those tested positive to ARV supplying clinics and ensure a facilitated post test support mechanism. Ensure that all minutes and script for the day is printed and shared. That way the Uganda Police had no suspicions (re:POMA). A file must be opened to keep all scripts because this is not a one time event and record keeping ensures accountability and progress noting.

2. Meet for not more than 1 hour: call the meeting to order by allowing all attendees to say their names. After which allow a moment of silence, read the agenda, let people pick up ballots for table distribution.

3. Agenda: after preliminaries, order for coffee and snacks. The Mace Master for the day, chosen earlier  reads out the questions. This one must have come earlier with the Event Organiser and is not restrained by any encumbrances as  the reading of the questions and moderation goes on. This person must also write down the proceedings for records purpose.

Questions: 

 a. Think of the last time you wanted to help a person you knew living with HIV and was bedridden but failed to. What could have got in your way?

b. If you knew of someone living with HIV, what have you done for them to enable them access ARVs, nutrition of housing support?

c. What strictly HIV-related activities would you like to discuss, plan around and execute?

d. What can people say about you that is uplifting? 

The idea was to talk about and help participants think about the end of HIV in their lifetime. This was novel idea and by the end of it there was a palpable sense of renewal in everyone. Everyone gained a Prevention-Informed-Awareness about them. 

They realized it was possible to own the knowledge, skills and structures for prevention. This meant that more participants could contribute more quality time as well as engage in self-care. 

When asked about this event many said this gave them a chance to  approach HIV from an active compassion than passive good intentions point of view.



Taraj, Alexa and Rukia promised to encourage many more events to be planned all over Uganda. 



It was an opportunity to talk about HIV in spaces where football, car racing, rugby, the Kabaka Run and Buganda Regatta are discussed. It was time 'end to HIV' conversations were brought to coffee house tables in Uganda.

"HIV seems so distant and discomforting in a wider scene but when it becomes an intimate circle thing, everything changes. In smaller circles people are stronger. What makes people disturbed turns out to make them ready to tackle it head on. It is like making contribution pledges," commented Rukia the leader of this sold out event.

"This is a safe space and we are now turning time we used differently to focus on equipping ourselves with resources to fight HIV," added Taraj. 

This was a light evening event, the participants not only enjoyed Centenary House but they got tasks for the next meeting. 

Kampala Conversation Cafes were going to start a prevention storm unlike any seen in Uganda.


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