FELLOW OF THE MONTH

4 12 2009

In recognition of World AIDS Day, we feature a Ugandan fellow who has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS, Esther Wamono, nutrition surveillance officer with Action Against Hunger/Action Contre la Faim (ACF).  Esther is mentored by Dr. Joyce Kikafunda, associate professor, food and nutrition sciences, Makerere University, Uganda.  She holds a master’s degree in applied human nutrition from Makerere university.                     

A recent graduate, Esther, 31, is already tackling the high levels of malnutrition in her resource-rich country, especially among children under five years of age and people living with HIV/AIDS. Her master’s thesis focused on nutrient enhancement in bananas to improve the nutritional intake of people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of her research, Esther developed nutrient-enhanced banana flour which she supplied to rural women living with HIV/AIDS. The flour was well-accepted by the women who agreed that the staple food has great potential to increase their nutrition and food security.

 “AWARD is helping me to network with professionals outside my own field to address the challenges of rural women. Fighting poverty and hunger requires a multi-disciplinary approach including nutrition, agriculture, social workers and the women farmers themselves.”

Esther says her participation in AWARD’s professional development courses has resulted in greater self-confidence. During the AWARD mentoring orientation workshop in October 2009, she developed her life purpose goal: to eliminate malnutrition among women of reproductive age and children under five years of age in Uganda.

“I decided that the first step on my professional road map was to get a job with an international NGO,” says Esther, who previously worked as a research assistant at Makerere University. She successfully applied to Action Against Hunger/Action Contre la Faim (ACF) and began her new job as a nutrition surveillance officer in November.

“The duty station is in Karamoja region—a hunger and malnutrition-stricken area in Uganda where security is still a major problem. It was not easy to make up my mind to move from Kampala to the northeast, but I remembered the moment during the workshop when we fellows closed our eyes and imagined ourselves doing everything in our power as individuals to make Africa a better place.”

Esther combines her professional research on nutrition and HIV/AIDS with hands-on care for women and children affected by the disease and by malnutrition. In Kampala, she offers nutrition counselling and education to poor urban families through an outreach program at her church and she has served as a volunteer at an orphanage.

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