Being a mother to very many from all different walks of life usually goes to show how many lives one has impacted.Mummy J is exactly the emulation of a mother to many; both young and old, workmates and clients, church friends, name it all.
She acquired her name through her infectious love and willingness to lend an ear to anyone who needs it. And for that, she normally does not wait for one to approach, but for them to be present. She can surely tell when something is amiss and she will rebuke you out of your foolishness if she must, with love and tinge of candor.
Julian Kalemera is a middle-aged counsellor at Alive Medical Services (AMS) and has been a counsellor for the past 18 years. A typical work day for Mummy J comprises of; receiving clients that are seeking voluntary counselling and testing services at AMS, clients enrolled in care and seeking ART adherence, and intensive counselling.
It has not always been easy for Mummy J in her endeavours to bring back hope to those that have lost it. Several times she finds herself at an emotional breakdown that she holds back since it is not professional for a counsellor to be in that state. Some of the challenges she faces during her daily encounters with clients are the limited amount of time to interface with them and sometimes the poor attitude of some clients that make it harder to reach out to them. But she is Mummy J, she always finds a way.
“Counselling needs a lot of time to address the exact issue and think of a possible way to support the client. Sometimes the turn ups are much bigger than anticipated and yet every client needs support. I usually take the client’s number that I think needs more of my time, I make a follow up just to make certain that I get through to them,” says Julian.
“I have met several clients with diverse stories, heartache and needs. But one thing I am always proud of, is the moment they come around the clinic with a smile,” Julian shares gleefully.
One of the most compelling encounters with her clients is a couple that took a test and turned out discordant, with the husband being HIV-positive and the wife, HIV-negative. The wife was bitter at her husband and threatened to leave him. Mummy J encouraged her to be by her husband’s side during that time in which he needed her the most.
The gentleman broke down during the session and after Mummy J’s concerned inquiry, he mentioned that he had no one to take care of him if the wife left. He had lost all his siblings to HIV and had recently buried his last brother who had succumbed to the same. His only living relative was his mother and he couldn’t get himself to break her heart with sadder news.
When Mummy J continuously counselled the couple, the young man was encouraged to adhere to his treatment. He was healthy and today still comes to AMS for his regular medication refill even after him and his wife separated two years after confirming his HIV-status.
“Whenever people like this gentleman pass by my office just to say thank you, I am always reenergised. My payment is seeing a smile on each client’s face,” says Julian.
Mummy J continues to offer her services especially to women and young people in care. She helps link the women to income generating groups to support their families and themselves. She additionally encourages and links clients to peer educators who are HIV-positive clients and are stigma free, look out for others like themselves, adhere to medication and most of all support those in of need psychosocial support at the community level.
“I think that if only we could share more love with those that are HIV-positive, then we could save more lives. A hug alone can make someone change their mind about ending their lives. It reminds them of their worth,” shares Julian.
She additionally commends all the people that go an extra mile to take care of HIV-positive people because in turn, they are taking care of all the HIV-affected people which is nearly, everyone.