Mrs Grace Aciro Oyat won the Inspirational Award at our Women in Focus awards evening at NTD Summit 2017.
Background information about Grace’s voluntary service in Lamwo District, northern Uganda
Mrs. Grace Aciro Oyat joined the Village Health Team in 2007 in her home district of Lamwo. As a farmer she had no background knowledge on health matters. But the need to take care of her children’s health during the period of insurgency in Northern Uganda, prompted her to learn how to administer medicine to her own children.
Grace joined the Village Health Team as a volunteer expecting no payment from anybody but willing to offer her services for the benefit of people in her village. This followed her own experience with the River Blindness disease which her son had contracted. Her consistent effort and determination succeeded in getting her son cured of the disease using conventional medicine.
Grace started her voluntary work by distributing malaria medicine to young children between the ages of 4 months to 5 years in the Internally Displaced People’s camp. She remained on call 24 hours a day to administer medicine to mothers whose children needed emergency help.
Grace noted that her strong effort to reach out to mothers helped change the negative attitude that the people held towards NTD medicine. Even after leaving the IDP camps, Grace continued to volunteer, highly motivated by her own success which she was willing to share. This is evident by the fact that many of her colleagues left the voluntary service because of the hardships they were facing.
She has no recollection of the exact number of mothers, children and families that have benefitted from her own voluntary effort but she remains optimistic that with collective efforts, NTD will be eradicated from her communities before the year 2020.
Grace’s words of appreciation for her award
She received the news of the prize that she has won as a surprise because she was not volunteering her service for a direct reward. It was purely an offer of service to her own community.
She is delighted to note that her contribution was being monitored and now being appreciated by many more people from outside her own community.
She expresses here sincere and heartfelt appreciation to all those who were involved in arranging this award event.
She also carries a message of appreciation from the women of Lamwo District where she comes from.
In a nutshell, Grace wishes to advocate for continued sensitisation of women and men in the rural areas to the dangers of NTD. She urges for increased supply of drugs for treatment of NTD as well as effective education of men in the communities to shoulder their responsibilities as heads of the family.
Overall, Grace wishes to see that the struggle to fight poverty succeeds during her lifetime because poverty is the main challenge in the eradication of NTDs.