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Where is Arua?
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The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the south-west by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, within which it shares borders with Kenya and Tanzania.

The colonial boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These differences prevented the establishment of a working political community after independence was achieved in 1962.

The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives. The rule of Yoweri MUSEVENI since 1986 has brought relative stability and economic growth to Uganda.

Arua is in north-western Uganda. It is one of the furthest districts from the Capital, Kampala. It is still very under developed and as a result, services like piped water and electricity are rare. As in all sub Sahara Africa, AIDS has taken a terrible toll in Uganda. Stemming the tide of disease is a two fold challenge: treatment of those infected with antiretroviral medications and prevention.

Certainly, antiretroviral therapy and Prevention Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programs are making an impact. However, living with HIV/AIDS in Africa has tremendous social and economic stigma. Infected mothers and babies can be rejected by their families, thrown out of their villages and denied any form of community support.

The Life Stitches project empowers AIDS women with children in Arua, Uganda. These mothers who are not otherwise able to generate income need skills, materials and equipment to become financially self sufficient. The Life Stitches project directly supports a sewing workshop on the Arua Regional Hospital grounds. The sale of beautiful cotton table products which the women stitch provides income to the individual mothers and allows their PMTCT peer support group to continue its vital role in outreach AIDS prevention education in the remote villages around Arua.

Contact: Katherine Gnauck MD