malawi – Alice Mungomo speech at opening of the DREAM center of Mtendere
I am Alice Mungomo (single), am 26 years old. It was in 2005 when I was found HIV positive at the antenatal care. The news that I have been found HIV positive was like a death sentence to me, it was the worse time I experienced in my life. My life was very bitter and miserable that I asked my self what I am doing on earth, why I deserved to live. Though I was counseled it was just like insulting me, looking at how young I was and also thinking of the response which I will get from my husband. When I went home we continue living together but not a happy life since I knew about my status and my husband did not know his status and he put all the blame on me that I am the one who took the virus in the house.
One day I was telling a good friend of mine about my HIV status, she later introduced me to DREAM Program. I did not hesitate but to rush to DREAM Program for the assistance, they drew a blood sample so that they should check if I was eligible to start therapy. Counseling was done each and every time I went for the visit assuring me that I will bear an HIV negative child only if I took the drugs as prescribed. I could not believe that it can happen for a HIV positive pregnant woman to bear an HIV negative child.
I was taking the drugs as prescribed. It was on 19 December 2005 when I gave birth to baby girl Rejoice. I told the nurses about my HIV status and they gave the child Neverapine. Soon after delivery, my husband abandoned me because he was afraid to raise HIV positive child but that was in his thoughts. It was very bitter to raise a child without a father and I needed him most, especially to assist me with transport expenses to the hospital and all the requirements for my life and my child especially when I was asked to stop breast-feeding at 6 months.
After one year with DREAM, I never missed an appointment or any single pill; I tried as much as I could to reach the hospital in time and following to all the appointments.
Later, looking at how serious I was in following appointments and also on good drug adherence DREAM asked me to be part of their working team. I was very happy and I thanked God for answering my prayers. I agreed to be part of the Activists who helps other patients by teaching them Health Education, going for Homecare, counseling and sharing together their experiences as a family.
I Joined DREAM because I wanted to share or give out the love that they gave me in all the times I was visiting the Center, so that they should live the same like me. I wanted to share my experience to other pregnant women who feel like they cannot stand-alone after being abandoned by their husbands.
It was on 22 June 2007 the day that I was looking forward to see my child having an HIV test at 1 year 6 months. I was called to a counseling room to get the results of my child; my heart was pumping hard when I was entering the room. I got out of the room with TEARS not of sorrow but joy; my child was tested HIV negative.
Without taking much of your time, I am an Activist and also an HIV Counselor. My role is:
1. To give my fellow HIV positive people counseling especially on positive living
2. Doing group therapy.
3. To continue giving hope to the old and new clients at the village level and also at the center.
4. Advising and also sharing my living testimony all to expectant mothers to closely follow medical instructions in order to safeguard the baby from mother to child transmission.
5. Involved in Education Health especially to teenagers, as this is a crucial part.
My word of encouragement to you all here at Mtendere is that: lets make use of this hospital, it is very close to us comparing to some other areas. Being HIV positive is not the end of the world as many people think, think of my testimony, it is a death warrant to those who refuse any medical assistance but to us who are taking the treatment seriously there is still life a head of us.
Make your decision now to go for HIV test and know your status before it is too late.
Lastly allow me to express my special and sincerely gratitude for allowing me to sharing my living testimony with you here at Mtendere.
May the Almighty God continue blessing this programme from the Community of Saint’Egidio so that even other people who still don’t believe that AIDS can be treated should be reached and know the truth.