RIGHTING A WRONG~EDUCATING A CONTINENT #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Noerine Kaleeba has devoted her life to being sure others don't suffer the humiliation her husband Christopher endured when he was dying of AIDS. Along the way, this physiotherapist has educated whole nations about the realities of AIDS. When Christopher Kaleeba was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, they knew it was a death sentence. But they were not prepared for the added pain of being shunned and vilified. AIDS had come to Kampala, Uganda, in full force and there were no remedies or cures. Even when over a third of the adult population of Kampala was stricken, people still pretended there was no such disease; AIDS was associated with sex and homosexuality. Knowledge of the disease was so scarce, even some medical professionals feared they could be infected by just being near a victim; care for patients was virtually non-existent. AIDS victims and their families were often humiliated, shunned, expelled from their homes and left poor and alone. Christopher was given excellent healthcare in England, where he was initially diagnosed and treated. But when the Kaleebas returned to Kampala, even nurses refused to go near him. Noerine changed his IV drips and washed his bedclothes herself. Their four daughters endured ridicule at school, neighbors stopped coming to their house, and even colleagues at the physical therapy center where Noerine worked shunned them. The Kaleebas joined other patients and their families to share their stories and to pray together. Much of the pain they were all suffering would have been relieved if the public had a better understanding of AIDS so care and compassion could replace fear and stigmatization. When Christopher’s life ended in 1987, Noerine focused on educating Ugandans and other Africans about the disease. She and 15 friends founded TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) the first community-organized response to the epidemic in Uganda. TASO would provide information, caretaking skills, counseling, medical and nursing care, and material assistance to thousands of families struck by AIDS. TASO’s innovative approach includes using drama, dance, and song to educate people if they can't read. Within the first year of TASO's operations, 12 of the original 15 founders died of AIDS, as Kaleeba continued bringing care to victims and information to the public. After losing her husband, friends, co-workers, four siblings, and six brothers and sisters in-law to the disease, Noerine Kaleeba brings hope to Uganda and to the world. UPDATE: Kaleeba was tapped by UN-AIDS in Geneva to be their mobilization advisor for sub-Saharan Africa, a post she held until 2007. TASO continues to provide Uganda with AIDS education, testing, counseling, and medication. Kaleeba is now retired and living in Ttrakajjunge in Mukono, Uganda. Like this story? LIKE this page. Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes.