Mbakire Jessica (a 38-year-old HIV positive woman)

I remember waking up with many nurses around me, confirming that this was not a dream; I was HIV positive, and the world was swallowing me up. It was after having given birth to my second child that I began falling sick regularly. I wondered why this was happening, and I talked to my husband who was always so quiet about the topic. He was so arrogant to me when I asked what could be wrong that I decided to go alone for a blood test at the hospital. This was when I was found to be HIV positive. This is when I collapsed, waking up to these nurses in what felt like a nightmare. When I went home I told my husband about this, but he was not bothered, as if he knew already everything that was going to happen. We returned to the hospital and they put us on ARV. My husband’s CD4 was already very low and after a year he died. That was in 2002. I was so confused about where to begin; I was remaining alone with two children and I did not have any source of income to support us. I began falling sick regularly and amidst this my sister brought me to Kampala to stay with her. She and her husband tried their best to look after me by taking me to the hospital. But still, they could not afford the drugs I needed.

One day my sister’s friend came to visit and found me sleeping on the ground. She asked my sister who I was and what was happening to me. When my sister told her of my problems, this woman said she was a member of an organization called Meeting Point International, and that they could help me.
I went with my sister to the first meeting and we found very many people – mostly women – seated on the waiting bench. We also sat there, when it came to my turn, a lady with a smiling face welcomed me and listened as I told her that I was sick. She asked me for documents that confirm my sickness, told me how the organization works and how she could help me. I was registered in their book as a new client then another lady took us to introduce ourselves to the other women whom we found busy studying. They welcomed us with big handclaps, and that was the moment I realized that I wasn’t alone.

Each one of these women had a story of suffering just as I did. I found myself sympathizing with them, almost forgetting my own suffering. I have learned that everyone I meet in life may be passing through the hardest experience on this earth. I looked at my problems as being easy after I heard one of the clients tell the story of her having a zero CD4 count, as she stood there smiling and looking well.
The day I met the director, my strength even grew further, her smile to me was unmistakable. She loved me and I could see it. Despite my disease, I could see that she loved me. I later started ART through Nsambya hospital- in a few months my CD4 count increased, I was also enrolled into the WFP and my children started receiving school fees. I have no exact manner in which I can thank MPI for giving me back my life, but I know that I want to spread this joy they have given me to other women out there who are in a place like I was before I came here.

 

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