Organization Name: The AIDS Support Organization (TASO)

Location: Masaka Setting: Urban/Rural Established: 1998 Staff: 50

 

Subject Areas

Health: HIV/AIDS, AIDS Orphans, Public Health, Nutrition, High-Risk Behavior, Prevention Education

Community Development: Community Empowerment, Building Social Capital, Famine and Food Security

Environment: Resources, Conservation, Environmental Health, Environmental Education, Organic/Sustainable Agriculture

Microenterprise: Small Business Management, Microcredit, Micro-Lending, Strategic Management

 

Organization Objectives

The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) strives to improve the lives of HIV-infected or -affected persons as part of the larger effort to address the world’s AIDS pandemic. It promotes prevention, hope restoration, and general support physically and emotionally to its clients. Its goals are to:

  • Offer counseling to empower infected/affected persons to make informed decisions on all societal levels: individual, family, community, national, and international
  • Improve the quality of life and facilitate the balance between rights and responsibilities
  • Provide early diagnoses to clients so they can seek help and live positively
  • Facilitate care of infected/affected persons
  • Mobilize community to utilize resources to reduce stigmas about HIV/AIDS

 

Program Information

 

1. Counseling and Counselor Training

One of TASO’s primary functions is to provide extensive counseling to its clients by training professional counselors on issues related to HIV/AIDS. It also provides holistic follow-up care and home visits for families to encourage people to seek treatment if infected. During home visits, TASO takes advantage of the opportunity to conduct conflict mediation, dispel local myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, and effectively monitor the health and welfare of its clients and their family members. The components of the counseling program include provision of emotional support; assessment of risks and planning for risk reduction; and development of the ability to decide on options for prevention. TASO provides seven types of counseling specified in the following section.

 

Opportunities

  • Assist in training staff to counsel clients and raise awareness
  • Participate in all seven areas of TASO’s counseling program:

o      Pre-Test Counseling: Offered to clients who are about to undergo an HIV antibody test to determine their sero-status, or are interested in learning more about HIV infection and disease. TASO also encourages behavior change (i.e. avoiding unprotected sex) to reduce HIV infection

o      Post-Test Counseling: Offered to clients who want to know their HIV antibody test results

o      Prevention Counseling: Provides information to clients on preventing infection and re-infection of HIV and STDs

o      Bereavement Counseling: Aimed to help family members cope with the death of their relative

o      Crisis Counseling: Offered to help people deal with sudden symptoms or results from HIV infection such as onsets of an illness (e.g. herpes zoster, intractable diarrhea, skin rash); unexpected, or fear/indication of death and/or loss of family member; and loss of employment and accommodation

o      Couple Counseling: Allows couples who have had or intend to have sexual relations to discuss with each other about their concerns on HIV infection and other diseases as well as share and learn more about HIV/AIDS and STDs

o      Family Counseling: Offered to those in committed relationships with a client, living in the same household as a client, and/or those in the client’s extended family and community

  • Conduct outreach to the community
  • Train local peer educators and community development workers
  • Provide pediatric counseling for mothers, grandparents, and community members

 

Requirements

  • Background in counseling, psychology, social work, public health, HIV/AIDS, and/or medical-related fields
  • Experience working with those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Ability to handle ambiguity, and a balance between office work and rural community outreach
  • Mature and compassionate
  • Understanding of and sensitivity toward the issues faced by those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS

 

Program Supervisor

The program supervisor will be the head of the counseling department who is a trained professional with many years of experience.

 

2. Health Clinic and Home-Based Care

TASO operates a health clinic for HIV-positive clients who are referred for health education, counseling, medicine administration, palliative care, antiretroviral therapy, and resources. The clinic has a team of well-trained staff, including counselors, medical personnel, field officers, and social workers. Home-based care is carried out in the community by trained Volunteer Community Nurses. This strategy bridges the gap for medical needs at the grassroots level. TASO also has trained volunteers provide HIV/AIDS education, home care, counseling, and referrals in the communities.

 

Opportunities

  • Assist in the management and administration of the health clinic
  • Travel with volunteers to provide home-based cared to community members
  • Support TASO staff in strategic planning regarding resources, time, and staff
  • Participate in grantwriting and fundraising for staff education, additional medical resources, outreach materials, and service expansion
  • Provide technical training to staff on relevant new research, medical techniques, client relations, medical services, etc.

 

Requirements

  • Training in medicine and/or health-related fields
  • Background in health care, education/training, and/or new medical practices and techniques
  • Experience working with those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Ability to work independently and team setting
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills

 

Program Supervisor

The program supervisor will be the head medical officer at TASO Masaka.

 

3. Childcare Center

TASO Masaka is currently in its secondary and tertiary stages of creating the childcare center whose main focus is to empower families to care for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Many of these Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) are in need of and lack access to assistance. Activities of this program will include providing quality medical treatment and high nutrient value foods to improve the health of OVCs; giving loans to OVC families to start income-generating activities to strengthen their economic coping capacities; enhancing the capacity of families and communities to respond to the psychosocial needs of OVCs and their caregivers; and improving and expanding TASO’s childcare center and support services.

 

Opportunities

  • Assist staff in strategic planning, organizational development, and planning process of childcare center
  • Work with children in childcare and educational advancement services
  • Help staff in setting up psychosocial programs
  • Network with other NGOs and partners to incorporate best practices into program
  • Conduct research and incorporate findings to improve program development and planning

 

Requirements

  • Experience or knowledge in strategic planning, organizational development, networking, and/or business management
  • Knowledge of child development, social work, psychology, or public health
  • Interest and passion for working with OVCs
  • Detailed-oriented, flexible, and adaptable
  • Mature, self-motivated, and creative

 

Program Supervisor

The program supervisor will be the chief development officer for the childcare center.

 

4. Social Support and Sustainable Livelihood and Agriculture Project

Food shortage is a major problem in many rural communities, which consequently makes ARV treatment ineffective. This program aims to help clients support themselves through sustainable livelihood activities through outreach awareness and sensitization as well as educational workshops and seminars. Community outreach and trainings are held on topics such as farming, agriculture, crop rotation, livestock rearing, and other vocational skills. TASO hopes to lessen the dependency syndrome among clients by promoting knowledge and tools that they can use to sustain themselves independently with healthy food production. The apprenticeship program teaches vocational skills to children so that they are able to help their sick parents and siblings. The skills offered include carpentry, tailoring, salon/hairdressing, and mechanics. TASO also provides seed grants to community volunteers to improve their welfare as a measure of sustainability. Through this program, TASO Masaka has conducted peer educator training to high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers, boda boda cyclists, traditional birth attendants, and taxi operators. It has also formed a drama group to carry out awareness and sensitization through music, dance, and drama.

 

Opportunities

  • Assist in expanding program into more communities
  • Lead workshop trainings on food production sustainability topics for local rural farmers
  • Teach vocational skills to children and community members
  • Conduct needs assessments of communities
  • Create training materials and research proper methods that would be effective to use in particular communities
  • Establish a microfinance program to assist clients in earning enough money to save and invest in revenue-producing activities

 

Requirements

  • Experience or knowledge in agriculture, farming, crop rotation, and/or related topics
  • Background or training in microfinance, small business development, and savings and credit schemes
  • Ability to take initiative and work in diverse settings with a wide variety of people
  • Interest and compassion for rural communities and sustenance farmers
  • Understanding of and sensitivity toward the issues faced by those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Flexible and mature

 

Program Supervisor

The program supervisor is the director of the Sustainable Livelihood and Agriculture Project.

 

Note: Responsibilities offered to each participant will be proportionate to their level of experience. Participants who are new to development work may predominantly support and assist current project agendas, while those with much applicable experience may be able to assume greater responsibility. Research projects are strongly encouraged by this organization to support each program’s objective because minimal resources are currently allocated for research.

 

Working Conditions

The head TASO office in Uganda is located in Kampala, with over 11 satellite offices throughout the country. TASO Masaka is located in Masaka Town, at one of the local Ministry of Health clinics. Participants will usually spend their week in the office, at the clinic, or out in the field. The rural communities are often spread over many sub-counties, and the roads are notoriously poor. The time commitment is usually the normal working day hours unless fieldwork extends into the evening.

 

Organizational Background

TASO was founded as an effort to restore hope and improve the quality of life of persons and communities affected by HIV infection and disease. Its vision is for people to live positively with HIV/AIDS. TASO’s values include the obligation to people infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS; equal rights, shared responsibility, and equal opportunities; integrity; family spirit; and the promotion of human dignity. It encourages its clients to:

  • Accept their diagnosis
  • Seek prompt medical care
  • Practice safer sex
  • Continue to earn an income
  • Plan for the families and dependants
  • Seek counseling
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Have adequate sleep and exercise
  • Continue with normal social activities
  • Avoid harmful habits such as drinking alcohol and smoking

 

TASO Masaka was started in 1998. Initially, it offered its services to very few. As of 2008, its clientele has increased to 8,000 people, indicating that people are willingly seeking services in counseling, medical treatment, and social support.

 

Today, TASO is the largest indigenous NGO providing HIV/AIDS services in Uganda and the region. A total of 83,000 people with HIV/AIDS have been registered, and 22,000 directly receive care and support from TASO.