#OurStories: Joseph Ssemanda on Community Advocacy and MAHIPSO

My name is Joseph Ssemanda and I run the MASAKA KP HIV PREVENTION AND SUPPORT ORGANISATION (MAHIPSO). It is a local community-based livelihood project which was founded in 2015 and was officially registered at the Masaka District Administration in 2017. Its purpose is to promote health and human rights in what is known as Greater Masaka Area (GMA) and also to engage in supporting our beneficiaries to lead quality lives and be part of programmes fighting poverty. MAHIPSO was founded to serve as a resource centre to help young people access materials that promote quality life.

Masaka is about 120miles away from Kampala, the Capital city of Uganda and we realised it was important to be able to render services to the community. Most organisations are concentrated in Kampala, Entebbe and Wakiso. Places like Greater Masaka Region do not have a lot of NGOs. I chose to start up the organisation simply because I wanted to extend services to the people past lwera and there are a lot of people in those areas that need services. HIV is increasing at a high rate especially among the youth. We have the AIDS Service Organisation, Rakai Project, Masaka Regional Referral Hospital and other organisations. But when it comes to HIV they have concentrated on the traditional approaches. Some health workers adopt a blaming and condescending attitude when providing care towards young people. This discourages many younger people to access services. It is one of the reasons why there are many unattended cases of sexually transmitted infections among younger people.



Our major objective is to carry out comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaigns. We also want to build organizational capacity to effectively manage challenges facing all categories of able bodied persons in the community while advocating for developmental rights. We would like to also establish safe houses to relocate victims of hate campaigns, stigma and discrimination while recognizing individuals in affiliated self-help groups for common causes.

At MAHIPSO, we also work with transgender people, sex workers and other key populations. We have adopted the unconditional positive regard value and we do not discriminate according to sexual orientation, age, race, religion and creed. Whatever we cannot handle, we refer to our partner organisations.

Currently, we are working on a campaign on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This refers to any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harassment. We use different platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp groups among others to sensitize the public.



One of my dreams for MAHIPSO is to create about 35 community-based organisations in Greater Masaka and Uganda at large. People have always been eager to change the world but how can you change it before understanding what the world is? I invite everyone to join MAHIPSO in the struggle of bringing a change in the community. As our slogan states “You don’t need to be positive to think positive.”

For updates on us MAHIPSO follow the organisation on Facebook: MASAKA KP HIV PREVENTION AND SUPPORT ORGANISATION

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