A Story of HOPE:
I am third in a family of five. My parents separated when I was a baby. I never grew up in a stable family environment. Growing up I lived between several family members. My schooling was never priority and I ended up leaving in grade 3. My other siblings also were distributed among other family members and I never got to see them. We eventually lost contact of each other. It is only in recent times that I have been in contact with some of them again.
The home that I grew up in never accepted me and so I felt left out and neglected in many ways. I had friends that were a negative influence on me. I always dreamed of finding a man who would look after me. I longed to be secure and for a husband to understand where I came from. Because of this I ended up marrying my currant husband. At the time he was a security officer. I was only 19 when we married.
The first few months of marriage were interesting and new bit it was also the beginning of a nightmare. Not too long into our marriage I became the victim of many violent beatings and verbal abuse. It was physically, emotionally and mentally damaging. I found after some time that he was promiscuous. This brought about terrible fights. He would often leave me on my own with our children. His family also made things very difficult and always defended him.
After giving birth to my third son he was frequently sick. I was going regularly to the hospital to get treatment or him although the nurses never told me the reason for his illness.
During this time I attended adolescent reproductive sexual health training conducted by the YWCA PNG. While attending the classes I realised I had many symptoms that were presented. I suddenly had a strong urge to have a blood test…..that is when everything changed! Time stood still. I was totally confused. I could picture my life passing before me.
Now knowing my status, and living in a community that has many beliefs of their own along with many unexplained and misconceptions of HIV/AIDS, it made things very difficult for me to break the news of my status to friends and family.
The road to finding my health and getting back on my feet was hard. I even lost my youngest son to AIDS in 2010. This was very difficult and I could not have walked this journey alone. I have had amazing support and stayed on treatment. I have learnt to be a voice to speak out as an advocate for others living with HIV and could not have done this without individuals believing in and challenging me to rise up.
It has not been a smooth ride but today I am satisfied with what has happened and how I have managed so far. I found options of support networks around me and it is because of organisations and individuals believing in me that I am were I am today! I believe we need more of these support networks around PNG in order to help those living with HIV to realise that this virus is no longer a death sentence! I believe in what iCare4U stands for and I believe they can help. Together we can help release HOPE and point other in a direction that will bring meaning back into their lives.