Grandmother who is HIV positive gives breakthrough interview

Amelia Herrick interviewed Fatuma Nabalance, a grandmother who is HIV positive. Nabalance attends a weekly grandmothers’ group at a Kampala NGO. (Amelia Herrick | The Media School)

After almost two full weeks of reporting, I finally had a breakthrough. Mid-morning last Tuesday, I sat in the reception area of Reach Out for what seemed like the hundredth time, waiting to interview a woman for my story. Reach Out, an NGO offering education and care for people affected by HIV/AIDS, was one of the first programs to receive money from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, so its facility and programs are well established.

The day before, we had traveled to three different Reach Out locations and interviewed a not-so-eager team leader. My hopes for Tuesday were not high, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Reach Out has a meeting every Friday for grandmothers affected by HIV. Although the meeting did not fit with my schedule, the community leader found a grandmother who was HIV positive and who was willing to talk to me in Kampala at the main Reach Out location.

Fatuma Nabalence has been raising her seven grandchildren since the 1980s, when three of her five children died of AIDS. Nabalence told me about her routine and how Reach Out has affected her life.

This was the first interview where I had to use an interpreter. Nabalence quickly realized I could not speak Luganda and pulled over a Reach Out employee to translate. The employee helped us understand each other, for which I was very thankful.

I am looking forward to later in the week when I visit Nabelence in her home.