My work at MARPs Network, KCCA Affairs and Kelly Clarkson's Song (Stronger).

The things that happen, do on purpose and for a purpose.

I join MARPs Network
I came on board (MARPs Network) around October 2007. That time was spent vacillating between goal, partnership, scrutiny, solid delivery, results oriented culture, duty and ability to be flexible. It was a meeting of giants. Uganda has very sensible and very hard working people in the area of anti-HIV Response, Institutionalization, Service demand, ownership and Delivery. There are those who go through the stages of organization sequentially and reap from their sweat: Forming; storming; norming and performing. This is what I thought to reach with MARPs Network.

Together with others we broke through barriers and tagged response to: co-infections, behavior, practices, knowledge and attitudes. It was an herculean task. There were egos to break and mend, arms and legs to give. Eventually a pattern evolved, a social calender was etched, people and resources were available. There are many people I met. There are teams I came to work with. It is to this team that I brought my strengths, capabilities and short-comings. These I did expose to the maximum. In working with and around other human beings this is what we do, consciously or subconsciously. Humans are tuned to fix on this and this is what makes us sociable or afraid.

DANIDA Funds come in
I have dedicated many years to medicine, development and HIV. At MARPs Network we did even more. We were able to use our hard earned salaries to make it run from 2008-2011. By 2012 DANIDA in Uganda had decided to fund it. MARPs Network had a good story to show. It had a very experienced steering team to do even more work now that it was migrating from unpaid to salaried staff. There was hope. There were expectations. The executive team was small and well trained. It is this executive team that was now to take MARPs Network beyond 2012. DANIDA had provided huge funds that would facilitate the strategic and action plans.

This small executive team had proved their mettle. Sam, Richard, Natukunda, Muyunga (I) and Geoffrey Mujisha deserved to be paid and see their dreams/efforts having impact. A gentle man, Mr Smith Ian, with VSO-Uganda and also from UK joined MARPs Network in 2010 see : http://ianandrenate.blogspot.com/2010/03/blog-post.html

Asked to Leave MARPs Network
I want to be honest. I last read the http://ianandrenate.blogspot.com/  blog in 2011 following my exit from MARPs network. Am learning today October/09/2013 that Mr Smith Ian was taken ill in 2012 see http://ianandrenate.blogspot.com/2012/06/hurried-departure.html. We called him 'Muzeeyi.' A fondly imparted title. He saw our struggles,  how we negotiated and navigated the fuel-warning jet that was MARPs Network. When DANIDA funds came in Sam and Muyunga (I) were asked to leave MARPs Network. It was a stated understanding that DANIDA asked to drop the two.  Mr. Smith Ian, Geoffrey, Richard, Natukunda and a new Financial Controller stayed on.

The Pain and betrayal I felt and a blessing in disguise
I left with so much pain and could not believe it! Mr. Mujisha Geoffrey told me I was no longer needed at MARPs Network when we had gone to Nairobi for a conference. It is amazing.I met him on the plane to Nairobi. I even asked him where he was going. It was an agreed MO. Interface and visibility were under my docket as the Senior Programs Coordinator. It was my turf being taken over. All the beneficiaries I introduced to MARPs Network were 'turned.' I had worked tirelessly hoping that one day when we get to be funded,I shall also say 'we did it.' Alas! It was not the case. The experience gave me a glimpse into the maneuverings at the top, vertically and horizontally! I know of 10 really big HIV Service NGOs in Uganda that have a pattern I would not agree with. I had believed MARPs Network was different. I made sure we were about transparency, having MOs/SOPs in print, agreements, courtesy and respect. I do not believe in over capitalization. Import fuel guzzlers, have air-conditioned offices, rent very large office space, ensure if you are the ED all those below you ( beside or above) are sycophants or will have to be assuaged in one way or another, make sure you have opportunities to fly to all HIV related conferences, suppress any form of initiative, have all the nicest androids/mac-books, do not give accountability, do not entertain needs from grass-roots.I could go on. I always made this known.I would say it to all and sundry. Anyway, in Nairobi and on the way back I felt so betrayed and belittled. It was traumatic. But, I got an answer from an almost forgotten consultancy work in Tanzania for one week. That was a well deserved break.I gave the work in Dar-es-Salaam all my best.It was with UNAIDS and TACAIDS. A residual curiosity nagged at me. "that DANIDA asked to cut down on the executive or something like that," this from Geoffrey Mujisha. I later called on the contact at DANIDA to seek clarification.I even put in an unsolicited application on behalf of MARPS IN UGANDA. I was told they were only dealing with MARPs Network. I was also told by a sympathetic and honorable source that this was a coup to get me out of MARPs Network. I am passionate about HIV. My parents succumbed to AIDS. My late father had a blood infusion following a surgery. The blood was contaminated! I nursed both my parents. To me it was not about money ( because I was employed by the Ministry) but ensuring I work with an organization that had institutionalized access, reaching out, referral and credit extension for all affected and infected. Now that I was unceremoniously evicted from MARPs network,  I had to think harder, painfully, but faster. I had USD 3,000 I had made in Tanzania.I had also done so much work reaching out grass-root communities. I had contacts of all categories of MARPs in Uganda. I decided to call them up and tell them to contact me through MARPS IN UGANDA e-platforms. At first I felt so insular. But by two weeks phone-ins and tweets showed me I had my hands full. I thought about how different it would have been if I were doing this with MARPs Network. After all there all this effort would have cut so many corners. They had the facilitation. All I had was my paltry salary from Ministry Of Health that came at end of the month and the dwindling USD 3,000. I paid for a website, hotline, mileage reimbursement and a resource center.

Registering MARPS IN UGANDA
Friends joined me and we did HIV Services' work. We registered MARPS IN UGANDA. We even had a report out. We had conducted a mapping excursion in preparation to make MARPs Network engage in business unusual.  This was all over Uganda. I was glad I had the ability to do this between 2010-2011. The friends advised me to have all materials under MARPS IN UGANDA. MARPS IN UGANDA is not competing with MARPs Network. It is not even possible. A tadpole cannot begin to say it owns the pond in which it swims. MARPs Network is far bigger and more facilitated. MARPS IN UGANDA on the other hand concentrates on grass-root needs and points beneficiaries to where they can best get services. Today is October/09/2013. It is two years since I was asked to leave MARPs Network. I am glad I took leave to concentrate on a smaller but intensive service under the MARPS IN UGANDA. I met Sam, on the ether. I helped him design a better concept for his organization.I just hope he gets the support he deserves. I asked him not to look back but to look forward. I have made more friends now. I am wiser now and twice shy. My goal is: HIV MUST NOT WIN!

What MARPS IN UGANDA is not doing!
We are not based in an office but rather we are an e-platform with list-serves, Twitter, blogs and face book pages. We have a following of over 50, 000 subscribers who check in on our tweets and info-posts.
In full the name is Most at Risk Population Society in Uganda (MARPS In Uganda).

Lessons in life ( too short a life)
But, as I end I asserted that the things that happen, do on purpose and for a purpose. I have followed two great personalities in Uganda. The Lord Mayor Lukwago Elias and KCCAED Jennifer Musisi. They both have a well planned agenda whose name is: 'Keep Kampala Clean.' One uses rusted forks, spades, sometimes torn gloves and gumboots to collect rubbish. The other is well facilitated to a point that the entire music industry, corporate and the elite join hands to clean and collect garbage within Kampala. With the latter it is institutionalized. With the former it is only resolve to draw from.


Financial might and right ( another lesson)
I followed the two in the Ugandan dailies but decided to stop.I only compare their content using Twitter. See for yourself: https://twitter.com/KCCAED and https://twitter.com/EriasLukwago. Hopefully one day, these two will work together. They need to work together. It is of necessity. It is imperative. A person who is financially facilitated has bigger impact and is motivated. It takes unfathomable resolve to beat such a person. But do not get me wrong, in this world we have very few people with unfathomable resolve. They are a rare species. Good works prevail.

What does not kill you makes you stronger-Kelly Clarkson



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