A STORY ABOUT LEENA
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In 1998 I learned that I was HIV-positive.
This news came to me only months after I gave birth to my two daughters, Miriam and Orient. At that moment I was faced with a decision. Maybe I should keep quiet–there is so much stigma about HIV in my community. Many people are sick but they never say anything. Even when it is too late no one says anything about HIV; they just say he died of TB or something like that.
I am not just going to die and say nothing.
I am going to live my life
and I am going to help.
Every day I choose to live my life,
and every day I help others do the same.
Monday though Friday I visit my neighbors in their homes and I bring them medication that they need to be well. Every day they have someone that comes to see them, someone to talk with them who understands their struggles and their pain.
Then I go to the hospital and see the people who can no longer live at home and I take care of them there.
“How are you today?”
“Are your children well?”
I ask them these questions. I give them their medicine and do whatever I can to help.
Many people in my community still need help, but they say nothing. They will choose to die rather than have people know that they are sick.
So on Fridays, I meet with others who are HIV-positive in a group organized by Poetice International. We speak freely about our illness and about our struggles. We hope that others in the community who are sick will see that we are not scared of the stigma and maybe they will get help.
MY NAME IS LEENA
AND I AM NOT AFRAID.