|Investing in Our Future: Psychological support for children affected by HIV/AIDS. A case study in Zimbabwe and The United Republic of Tanzania (UNAIDS, 2001, 77 p.)|
Living Positively with HIV: A Daughters Perspective
Hard to Believe
Usually the truth is hard to believe.
When she told me,
It was hard to believe because it was a true story.
Its a story you would hear while crying tears of
Its a story that happened to someone Im really close
I know you wish to know who she is.
Its hard to believe that something very bad like that can
happen to someone who you never wanted to feel any pain.
It is good to know that your parent or relative is HIV positive. It is even better if your parent tells you on his or her own rather than your asking after seeing a book or hearing it from other people. Its just as painful to find out on your own. AIDS is not something to hide; its something natural. It is a disease like any other life threatening disease. Parents who are infected by HIV/AIDS and children who are affected need support, but most importantly, they need love.
I discovered my mothers status by error. I saw a tape that had my name and my brothers name written on it. I listened to it, only to discover that the voice on the tape was my mothers and she was talking to us. I was shattered when she said she had HIV and my first reaction was that she was going to die. Then she explained to me that the tape was three years old and I started to believe that there was hope of her survival for a long time. Then she explained everything to me about HIV/AIDS. I believe she told me of her HIV status because she loves us and she loves others by positively living with HIV/AIDS.
I get support from her immediate family, especially from her sister who is like a mum to me. Her friends are also a good source of support and so are other HIV/AIDS activists who are infected and affected. Some people talk of my momas being very courageous but others point fingers at me or talk in low voices or in corners. I just brave it and say that they are the ones with the problem and not me because I know HIV can happen to anybody at any time.
As a person who has a mother living positively with HIV, I would like to thank all the children who have gone through thick and thin in supporting and taking care of their ailing parents. There is life after being HIV positive and we continue to live after our beloved ones are gone. To those who have parents who are infected, I leave you with this special message: never give up on life, pray for those who are infected and affected, but dont forget to pray for yourselves. As my mother says, HIV for me means Hope Is Vital.
Eugenia Imagine Ndlovu, age 16, Zimbabwe
Living Positively with HIV: A Mothers Perspective
Apart from the pain, anxiety and the feeling of death being so near during the time of my HIV diagnosis, another hurdle and indescribable pain was when I had to disclose to my eldest child. I had never cried in front of anyone to whom I had told my status. On this particular day, when I tried to explain everything about my HIV status to my daughter, the tears kept flowing down. It was not easy to tell her, yet it made my burden lighter when the truth was finally out. It was a form of therapy in a way.
Because of my experiences as a mother living with HIV, I believe I have the strength within me to support, empower and build the capacity and skills to help my children also deal with HIV/AIDS.
I think we need to cross the cultural norms and taboos that hinder the true understanding of the epidemic. Our children should learn how to deal with the truth and the reality of the virus. Instead of being in denial, we must face and accept HIV/AIDS and help our children to deal with the real issues.
I have a passion and compassion for this issue because I believe that we desperately need to revisit the basics in every country, community and as individuals. Although communities are diverse, disclosure requires us to take responsibility for ourselves, and to realise that our lifestyle needs to change. We need to renew the drive for HIV/AIDS education, awareness and prevention, pursue the reinstatement of societal respect and ultimately, account for our own actions.
I hope people working to psychosocially support children affected by the virus realise that involvement of people living openly and positively with HIV/AIDS is paramount to the success of these endeavours.
Maria Ndlovu, South Africa