|Role||Peer Support Worker|
I am from Morende district. I am one of 10 - my position is number 3. I grew up with my parents and went to senior 4 in 1977 - I was 19. I sat my certificate and passed. When I finished, I joined a course to become a Catholic Nun. When I was about to be enrolled at the convent, I was too excited and ended up in Butabika. The nuns were supportive and they welcomed me back but the same happened in 1979 soI went back to Butabika. Then the sisters asked my parents to collect me and said I couldn't be a nun. I prayed for no relapse. I prayed to God to find me a husband and bless me with children. I wanted to find a man who already had a wife and children for me to be a second wife. We have been together for 30 years and i have one son, Joseph, who is 27. My husband has been so good to me, not giving me stress. The first day I saw him, I told him the truth. I said ' do you know who you are talking to? I am a mental person from Butabika hospita' He said that you can get better - it's not an issue for me. He doesn't give me stress but financially he struggles - he has many children. I love him. But luckily I am a government worker as staff making uniforms so I have my own income. I also make clothes for private people. My husband can provide something little but I don't force him to provide many things for me.
I had a third relapse in 1985 - that was my last one - I am now 28 years without relapse. The medication has helped, I don't take alcohol, I have enough rest, I don't go noisy places. I don't hide my sickness, I accept it. In this uniform (as a peer support worker), I go to Kampala and go to the parks and people ask me what are you doing and I say that I am ready to help others. Even before, I had already started in the hospital to provide support - without help. Richard used to refer me patients to talk to them. I love people - I used to say why are patients having a stressful time , I wanted to tell them my story. I used to go to OPD early in the morning and talked to patients who come for review to learn from me how to manage not to relapse many times. But the training as a peer support workers helped me to get the way of working it. I was telling patients what to do - but they added in eating well and do exercise, to do work. It also gave me great confidence in my own skills - I accept my sickness 'moleru' - mad woman - but i don't mind this. It came from god, I was not bewitched. I am ready to help other users. I do peer support work in the hospital and in the community including home visits. I also like to do opd and ward visits in Butabika hospital. I am determined to help the patients as I love them like myself.
When I visit patients in the community, I have some advantages and disadvantages in the community. When I go, they welcome me as I have been going for a long time but they expect me to give them something - to eat. It sometimes hurts me to see this and I give some of my own money. Another challenge is that our phone is UTL so we have to buy airtime to link to these people. Users/carers have different lines and so we have to buy airtime.
According to people I have visited, they are happy with my work. I encourage them to work, to have small businesses and some of them are really enthusiastic. `i tell them 'have hope. once upon a time I was in uniform like you'.
My family was always supportive, even when I was sick. I am very lucky working here at butabika - the staff have played a part in keeping me healthy too.