Name changed to protect identity
Susan is a small woman with a very shy smile and a gentle demeanor. She speaks softly. Susan is 24 years old and has 3 children – ages 2, 4 and 6. She is HIV positive.
Her story is one of hardship and survival. In 2007, Susan was living happily with her husband and children. She never considered herself at risk for HIV until she began to notice the health of her youngest child, still an infant at the time, quickly deteriorating. While receiving medical treatment, she decided to have both herself and her youngest child tested. Needless to say, Susan was shocked to learn that both she and her baby had tested positive for HIV.
Shortly after discovering that their baby was sick, Susan’s husband abandoned her and has not returned since. It was during this time that she experienced the greatest of hardships. She could not afford to pay rent, water, or electricity bills. She decided to take her children and go and live with her mother, who herself is struggling to survive in a small singleroom apartment. It was also at this time; however, that she discovered Ilaje Home - Based Care program. Susan first heard about HBC though a neighbour and has since used many of the services offered there, including counseling, medical and home-visit and social support.
Even though Susan faces trials and tribulations which life has thrown her way. She continues to reach out and show kindness to others despite the constant discrimination she is forced to deal with. When we started the school, it was discovered that Susan is a school teacher and consequently she became one of our pioneer teachers in Masoyi Nursery School where she continues to volunteer.
She is a courageous woman. We can all learn from her. She continues to build into the lives of the poorest of the poor in the community where she teaches. Susan is the essence and spirit of survival and I am confident she will continue to persevere for the remainder of her unique and beautiful life.