Santa Fe College is hosting a special speaker from the African country of Uganda on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Nuru (Princess) Kisitu Nahbumba, 24, is an HIV/AIDS educator and counselor who has worked extensively in her own country and in others in Africa. The United Nations has recognized her work with numerous awards.
“We met Nuru back in 2006 when we were volunteering in Uganda at a youth HIV/AIDS peer support group at Mulago Hospital in Kampala,” said SF Professor Carol Thomas, who teaches in the Sciences for Health program with Professor Kerry Chancey.
“Nuru was 19 then,” continued Thomas. “We’ve remained close to her ever since , and our students have networked with her and email with her. Two of our students also met Nuru in Uganda back in 2008. We are so excited to have her coming to Gainesville.”
Kisitu (that is Nuru’s last name, even though the order is different than we are accustomed to) is planning two public presentations while in Gainesville.
- From 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, in Building P, room 162 at Santa Fe’s Northwest campus, she’ll speak informally about her experiences and show a video by IRIN Films about her own journey with HIV/AIDS. In Africa, a large number of children are orphaned and HIV positive due to the high mother-to-infant transmission rate. The event is free and open to the public, and her audience will be invited to dialogue; this will be more of an informal discussion.
- Later that same day, from 6-8 p.m. at the University of Florida campus, in the HPNP Building’s Auditorium (room 1404), at 101 S. Newell Dr., Kisitu will give a more formal talk and will be joined by Teresa White, the minority HIV/AIDS coordinator at the Alachua County Health Department, who will provide the local and state perspective. The video will be shown that evening as well.
“Since the summer of 2010, Teresa and Nuru have been ‘facebooking’ on issues she is dealing with in Uganda and issues here in the Alachua County area,” Thomas said. “Through the Internet, Teresa and Nuru have become good friends. Teresa cannot wait to meet her in person.”
And via more local networking, Thomas connected Kisitu and Jill Sonke, the director of Shands’ Arts in Medicine program, in 2010. With the assistance of a Johnson & Johnson grant, Thomas said Sonke was able to fund a trip for Kisitu and seven additional youth from Uganda to attend a forum on art and healing in Rwanda last May. So there are several Gainesville connections.
Thomas said she has become very close to many of the youth who are members of the HIV/AIDS peer support group at Baylor Children’s Medical Center in Kampala.
“When Kerry and I first visited in 2006, there were 12 young people in the peer support group,” Thomas said. “Now there are over 150 in the older group and around 300 in the younger group. I hope that Nuru’s visit will bridge the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS as a global issue and communicate that this is not just one country’s problem.”
Kisitu is staying with Thomas and will be in Gainesville from Aug. 6 to 23. In addition to public talks on Aug. 10, she is planning to meet with various community groups. Those interested in arranging time with Kisitu should contact Carol Thomas at 352-395-5681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.