“I feel there are more young people out there who need someone to stand for them”
December 13, 2016
Building on her own experiences in childhood, Azizuyo Brenda Facy is determined to create change in young people’s lives in particular those vulnerable to or living with HIV. Brenda holds a diploma in Law and after a volunteer position she was recently appointed as project assistant at the International Community of Women living with HIV Eastern Africa. This organisation is implementing partner in the Sparked Women project. Meet this sparkling 23 years old from Uganda!
What is your motivation to create change for young people?
I went through a lot of mistreatment and torture by my stepmother after my mum passed away when I was two years old. By then I did not know my rights and my stepmother warned me from telling anyone. Besides that, I was falling sick all the time so I asked to be taken to hospital for thorough check up. However I was told to wait until the opportunistic diseases were treated.
I felt I was losing my life and myself. Rumors spread in my community that my mother died of AIDS and I was being finger pointed at that I was going to die as well. I decided to sneak to the hospital for an HIV test without telling anyone. I was 14 years old when I was found HIV positive with a CD4 count of 14. I started treatment. With all what I went through I feel there are more young people out there who need someone to stand for them and show them the right way to go.
With this always at the back of my mind I aim high to achieve my child hood goal. My comfortableness with and motivation for young people vulnerable for or living with HIV strengthen me in supporting them and creating change in their lives. Being in the field of HIV inspires me.
What, do you feel, makes young women so vulnerable for HIV?
Poverty makes young
women vulnerable to HIV. This vulnerability is fueled by biological,
behavioral, socioeconomic, cultural and structural risks campaigned with lack
of knowledge, acceptance, passion, determination, hope, practice and support in
every aspect of life to make informed choices. I came across an 11 years old
young girl whose mother was selling local breweries. The girl was sold for sex by
her mother to the men who came to drink alcohol. At some point the girl
summoned her courage and told a teacher what she was going through. The teacher
took her to the hospital and this little girl was found HIV positive.
Another girl I came across started giving birth at an age of 14 years. She is now 18 years old with 3 children from different fathers. Had this girl been given guidance, support and taught of the best reproductive health rights and the risks encountered by reproduction she was not going to end up HIV positive.
What are you hoping to achieve for young women with the Sparked Women project?
My expectation for the Sparked Women project is that we achieve self-reliant, knowledgeable employed, empowered girls, adolescents and young women who are able to face the challenges of a dynamic society especially HIV and poverty.
And for your personal future?
My dream is to become a strong lawyer and advocate for the juvenile and young people.
Sparked Women aims to reduce new HIV infections in women aged 15-24 in Uganda by tackling the high unemployment rates among them. Successful micro-entrepreneurs will benefit from sustainable livelihoods and income, savings and self-confidence, enabling them to make safer sexual health choices and access health services when needed.
The Sparked Women project is funded by by PEPFAR as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, supported by PEPFAR; Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson; and ViiV Healthcare. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the Funds Manager for this award.