New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Blind HIV-Positive Nyakato Gets House

A blue basin and a pig with piglets are all that now occupy Joan Nyakato's derelict hut at Kisindizi village in Masindi district.

Thanks to the new brick-wall house, the 44-year-old widowed, blind and HIV-positive mother of four whose story New Vision readers have been following, has bid farewell to the hut.

In what many describe as the perfect Christmas gift for the family this year, Nyakato and her children were all smiles on Monday as Vision Group's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team and members from the Masindi branch of TASO handed over the house to them.

Although Nyakato cannot see the beautiful house, which boasts two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and an outside latrine, her face beamed with smiles throughout the handover ceremony.

"It still feels like a dream for poor me to own such a big house. Sometimes, I imagine someone will come up later to claim my house," said Nyakato in her native Runyoro language.

"But then, an inner voice tells me I got this house because God spoke through New Vision, which started the fundraising campaign to build it, so nothing bad will happen to me. I don't even know where to get the words to thank New Vision. But I know God will bless them and everyone who contributed towards my house," added Nyakato.

The journey to this good news started on December 15, 2011, when New Vision published Nyakato's life story, which touched many readers.

Now a year down the road, the article, titled "Widowed, blind and HIV positive, all Nyakato needs is a house", has yielded fruit.

Following its publication, New Vision readers all over the world started contributing money towards a house for this family, which lived in a wobbly hut.

As an immediate response, Kisindizi village dwellers mobilised themselves and refurbished the hut while contributions trickled in from different helping hands.

The highest cash contribution came from a group of Ugandans under the Uganda Martyrs' Church in Toronto, Canada, through their music minister Moses Kiwanuka, who launched a fundraising campaign to the cause in the church.

On the tangible side, Lifehouse Community Church, a Pentecostal church in Mityana town, contributed 30 pieces of ironsheets, while dfcu Bank contributed a water tank for the family, among other contributions.

Through updates in the New Vision on the progress, the contributions kept growing by the day until sh11m was raised from readers, and Vision Group, as part of its CSR philosophy to give back to society, topped up the sh2m that stood between this family and safe housing.

As you read this, Nyakato and her four children are safely nestled in their new home and will have something to thank God for this Christmas, with or without a sumptuous christmas meal - thanks to everyone who partnered with Vision Group to see this dream come true.

So it would be safe to say that Nyakato is now a step better, although none of her children is in school and the family still doesn't have a means of subsistence.

Plus, to keep in touch with members from The Aids Support Organisation, who offer her and her four-year-old daughter medication on a regular basis, she needs a mobile phone, which definitely comes with a need for solar power, as she has to charge the phone. Which means Nyakato could still need some help and a Christmas meal on Tuesday.

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