You would probably never imagine that the word ‘AIDS’ could become a big issue in your life. You would think that this life-threatening disease would never be your direct concern, since it does not and it never will affect you or your loved ones.
I thought so too. My name is Nila, and I am an ordinary housewife. I thought that AIDS was not my direct concern, as I spent most of my time at home and never took any risks to my health. But I could not prevent the bad fortune that happened to me.
My husband had a job which required him to travel a lot, which means he had very little time to stay with me and the children. Since he was away so often, I did not know all the details of his daily life. As it is our traditional lifestyle, I was pleased to stay with my two children at home, as long as we had enough food to eat – even though my husband only earned a low income. Our life was nice and peaceful.
The dangerous, life-threatening disease came to my husband suddenly and without notice. My husband did not know he was carrying the HIV virus, so that the disease invaded our peaceful family life without us knowing it.
My husband got weaker day by day. After a while, he could not work at all. At last, we had to bring him to the hospital. The doctor said that my husband had contracted the disease called ‘AIDS’. Since our area is very poor, the hospital has no capacity to treat the disease. But, luckily, the hospital staff told me that there is one organisation, Malteser International, that could treat that disease, and they contacted them for me. For my husband, it was too late – he passed away, leaving me with the debt of the hospital and doctor bill.
To tell the truth, until this time, I did not know much about AIDS. All I knew was that this disease is deadly. My neighbours said that, if we are unlucky enough, our entire family could be infected. I thought, “Oh my god, not only me, but my two children could also die from this evil disease”. So, I visited the Malteser International counselling and awareness sessions and found out that I needed to be tested for AIDS.
The results showed clearly that I am also infected. My life at this moment was darker than midnight on a moonless night, and I was scared to move forward. I thought of suicide.
Immediately after that thought occurred to me, my children came into my mind. Luckily, after the blood test, we were informed that they were not infected. The Malteser International staff helped me as much as they could.
Since I do not have any income, I was not able to pay my rent. But staff from Malteser International contacted local organisations to provide a warm shelter for me and my children. For our daily food, Malteser International contacted the World Food Programme, who gave us food rations. But most importantly: Malteser International provided me with free treatment, to prevent an outbreak of the disease. In the beginning of the treatment, my health was declining rapidly, so I had to go to Malteser International’s clinic frequently. Sometimes, the doctors and nurses also came to my house.
After a while, with the medicines from Malteser International, my health got better. As I am illiterate, I could not read the names and instructions for all those medicines, but the Malteser International staff taught me how to take the medicines regularly and showed me that I could live a healthy life.
I do not know how to express my thanks for their kindness during treatment at their clinic. I have gained hope with this support. I also started to grow some vegetables near our temporary house to help put food on the table and improve our income as well.
The doctor told me to look in the mirror every time I take the medicine to see that I would get better. While I looked at the mirror, one thought came into my mind: “What if Malteser International had not been there for us? Where would I and my two little children be now?”
*name has been changed to preserve the person’s privacy
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