The Rob Foundation

Tamar blogs – On outreach to Kasensero where fishermen catch more than fish alone.

Kasensero at first glance seems like a small fishing village in the south of Uganda, but at the same time has a worldwide impact because this is the spot were AIDS was first introduced into the world. At that time people though that the village was haunted because one after the other died, after investigation it became apparent that HIV was the cause. Now they are not known alone for the good fish, but meanly because of the big HIV population. An area with a great number of problems, but without aid facilities.

Most men live according to the “you only live once” principal. Every night they go out on the water to fish and that way they earn tons of money. More than the average well paid Ugandan can earn in a month. However they also know that every day can be the last. Regularly there are storms on Lake Victoria and there little wooden boats are often not build for that. Just a small portion of the fishermen can swim; even less will wear a life vest. They have seen a lot of colleges leave to never come back and realize that this can also happen to them. They do not have plans for the future. They live in the now and enjoy their self-earned money. Enjoyment for them is booze and sex. Amenities are far away, but there is no shortage of bars and prostitutes. They are not afraid of HIV, if you boat capsizes you drown and with HIV you can live a couple of years a carefree life.

On arrival our accommodations were much better then we could have dreamed of for such an isolated place. Soon it became apparent that there was no running water, the water that was available, was mucky and smelled of fish. Moreover we were not there alone; a lot of us were surprised by a visit from one or more rats. To make matter worse, in my room they were balancing on the railing of my bed. And yet there was no reason to complain, others were accommodated in a “guesthouse” that clearly had not been rented out to long term guest and they found lots of condoms under their bed in in the corner of the room.

Once we had arrived in the village all of a sudden the rumors became reality. A lot of people hobbled in the village and could barely stand on their own legs. As if this was not enough, it was extremely dirty. Literally there was garbage everywhere, and to imagine that those of us that had been here before thought there was a big positive difference from a couple of years earlier.