A message from Emma Scullion, Founder of Awamu
JA-JA GINA, OUR INSPIRATION
Awamu means ‘together’ in L'uganda. It's the main language spoken in the slums of Kampala, Uganda. We chose it as it reflects spirit of the women and children we work with there.
The first picture below is Regina (nicknamed Ja-Ja Gina by her friends) and Jaliya when I first met them in 2008.
I had visited Uganda for my work with ActionAid and met the most amazing people. People, whose lives had been torn apart by the HIV virus, but who still share what little they have and give all their energy to help those around them. People like Regina with a determination to make things different for their families and their community.
The driving force for change
Regina and volunteers like her are the driving force behind transforming the lives of children like Jaliya in the slums of Bwaise and Makerere. The very first time we met, I was completely bowled over.
Regina was a widower and a grandmother. Six of her own children died of AIDS related illnesses. She was the sole provider for 12 children; 10 grandchildren, one niece and her adopted daughter Jaliya, living in a room no bigger than two by three meters.
Yet along with a group of other women, who have all been similarly affected by HIV, she gave all her time and energy to help the most vulnerable in her community. Sadly, she passed away late summer 2017, but her spirit lives on in the network she played such a part in creating.
This network of women walk the streets of the slums in search of children and adults in need of their support. They encourage adults to confront their fears and help them navigate the medical system. They offer care and protection to those, who are too weak to look after themselves or their families. They provide safety and care for orphans.
Their support means the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable in their community
This inspired the fundamental purpose of Awamu and we have set ourselves the challenge to find as many ways to help volunteers like Regina to expand their work in the community. We want to enable them to reach out to even more orphans and children with HIV – just as they did with Jaliya.
Women like Regina make us want to be better people. They make us want to be able to look them in the eye and say “Yes, we have done everything we can to help".
Emma Scullion - November 2017