Breaking the Chains of TB Stigma: Rose's Journey of Resilience

Rose tending to her garden


Rose's journey began with a diagnosis that shook her world—tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, a disease masked in fear and misconception, became more than a physical ailment for Bunia. It became a barrier that separated her from the love and support of her family, plunging her into a lonely abyss of depression and desperation. "Tuberculosis took more than just my breath; it took my family's love and support for me, leaving me feeling alone and worthless," Bunia recounts, her voice carrying the weight of past struggles.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a persistent challenge in Uganda, posing significant public health concerns and impacting the lives of many individuals across the country. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) each day close to 240 people falling ill with TB and approximately 30 losing their lives in Uganda.  More than half of TB-related deaths are among people living with HIV, yet it is preventable and curable. TB is often stigmatized due to the perception of its contagious nature, which leads to fear and avoidance among communities. Additionally, a limited understanding of how TB is transmitted further fuels the stigma surrounding the disease.

Amidst the darkness, a beacon of hope emerged in the form of group counseling sessions provided by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) at the Anzovule B Farmer group, of which Bunia was a valued member. Here, surrounded by understanding peers who had faced their battles with mental health, Bunia found solace and strength. "Surrounded by people who understood my struggle, I finally felt seen and heard," she reflects. Whenever Bunia met with the group members, the warmth of the community lifted her from the depths of despair.

But Bunia's transformation didn't stop there. With the support of LWF under a BROT-funded project aimed at enhancing sustainable livelihoods, and promoting psychosocial well-being of refugees and host communities, she found her footing not just emotionally but also financially. Engaging with the Anzovule B farmer group, Bunia not only cultivated crops but also cultivated a sense of belonging and purpose. Her involvement in livelihood initiatives like agriculture not only provided her with stability but also empowered her to create additional income streams. She constructed four grass-thatched huts, which she now rents out, providing her with a monthly income to cover her basic needs.

Bunia's journey of triumph is a testament to the power of community support and individual resilience. Mr. Anyama Joseph, the LC 1 Chairman of Egge Village in Adjumani district, acknowledges Bunia's remarkable transformation. "She is a mother to many in the community," he affirms, highlighting her kindness and resilience despite her health challenges.

Moses Eruaga, a Community-Based Facilitator, witnessed Bunia's transformation firsthand. " Bunia rarely interacted with her colleagues, and it was clear that she felt isolated, however, witnessing this transformation brings me great satisfaction, knowing I have positively impacted someone's life," he shares. Bunia's journey not only inspires those around her but also contributes to the larger narrative of mental health awareness and de-stigmatization within the community.

Bunia Rose's story is more than just a tale of overcoming adversity, it's a testament to the human spirit's capacity to rise above darkness and embrace the light of hope and resilience. Through her journey, she not only found healing for herself but also became a guiding light for others.