Uplifting a community affected by HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda
This summer, Sam Gant '13 is in rural Uganda helping to uplift a community affected by HIV/AIDS and learning to play traditional drums in his free time.
Gant, a political science and French double major, is spending this summer working with Foundation for Sustainable Development, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that places interns with partner organizations in host countries. Gant has been placed with the AIDS Support Organization (TASO) in Jinja, Uganda. The organization was created to connect people faced with HIV/AIDS at a time of high stigma, ignorance and discrimination. From a small support group, TASO has since evolved into a large NGO with 11 service centers.
During his internship, Gant is working to improve the economic situation of the Positive Men Union (POMU). POMU is group of HIV-positive men who live in a community on the north shore of Lake Victoria. They own a milling machine that processes maize, cassava and millet into flour, but it is currently inoperable. The men need to raise 800,000 Ugandan shillings to make it work again, and Gant's job is helping them parlay their skills as carpenters, farmers and welders into jobs. The income from these jobs will then help them to repair the machine. In addition, he will be conducting field visits to do HIV tests, promoting HIV education campaigns and helping with counseling services for the afflicted.
“A lot of my political science work has focused on African politics and development, so this internship is a great opportunity not only to live in an African country and gain a greater understanding of its culture and politics, but also to see in practice a lot of the principles of NGO-assisted development that I had only read about in an academic context,” says Gant.“To that end it's been really rewarding to get a hands-on experience of poverty treatment and sustainable forms of development.”
Gant, son of Christopher (class of '83) and Sarah Gant (Bryn Mawr College '81), is working under the auspices of Haverford's Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. He is one of more than 60 students who received stipends from the Center this summer that allows them to work on projects in the U.S. or abroad in areas related to peace-making and peace-building, as well as to combat social, political, economic and governmental challenges.
--Stephen W Handlon '13