Willie Salmond is a minister, ordained by the Church of Scotland in his home country. He’s owned a house in Westport for 30 years.
But he’s spent most of his life in Africa.
There were 10 years in Ghana. Seventeen in Uganda. Three more in Zimbabwe.
Salmond worked in international development with farmers. Then he trained Peace Corps volunteers.
His life changed when he was sent to San Francisco, to learn about AIDS. He went back to a camp in Kampala, to run Uganda’s first testing and counseling through a USAID-funded program.
Salmond is retired now. He’s back in Westport, where — during his stints here — he helped coach his 2 daughters’ soccer teams. Now he’s a member of the Y’s Men.
But for 10 days last month, he made a very meaningful return to Uganda.
He met a man and woman who at age 14 had lived in his first AIDS camp. Today they lead their own program.
Recently, Salmond spoke at the Saugatuck Congregational Church. Some parishioners were surprised to learn how grateful Ugandans are for the United States’ $18 million support for antiretroviral drugs.
The program was begun by President George W. Bush. It was reauthorized by President Obama. It continues under President Trump.
Salmond hopes it will keep going — though no one is sure. Stopping it, he says, would be “catastrophic. Many lives have been saved. Young people are assured a healthy future.”
There is a lot in the news these days about taxes, Salmond says. He believes firmly that this program is money well spent.
Very few Americans hear about programs like this. He would like at least his fellow Westporters to know about it.