I am Dofa Namagowa. I Came to DREAM in November 2006, when I was three months pregnant. I was tested HIV positive. This news came as a surprise to me as I was never sick and I never suspected that I would be HIV positive. The Counsellors at DREAM explained to me in a friendly way that this was not the end of my life and that I was lucky because at DREAM they offer all services of HIV infected people.
After the next appointment of blood analysis the doctors told me that I had a very low CD4 count and that my viral load was very high. They told me that I had to start ARVs immediately so that I should also protect my unborn child from being infected. I felt so much pain in my heart and tears started to flow, not because I was positive , but because of the thoughts that I would have died had it been not for the blood analysis as I was not sick and had a feeling that I was health.
On 25th May, 2007 I gave birth to a baby girl. I breast fed for six months according to DREAM protocol. I continued coming with the baby for monthly check-up for 18 months. The good news was that when the rapid test was done after 18 months she tested negative. I thank DREAM because without its help, I and my baby would have been dead by now. DREAM is like a mother to me.
For these reasons I volunteered to be one of the DREAM testimonials who are the eyes of all those people who are infected by the virus. I got the experience of how painful it is to be HIV positive. Honestly speaking, it’s very painful when someone discovers his/her HIV status. There is stigma and discrimination in our country, Malawi.
I am also the eyes, hands and legs of my fellow friends who are in need of my help. Malawi has got a very big population of mothers and children who are HIV positive. It pains me a lot when I look at innocent children who are HIV positive but have no idea on how they contracted the virus. The children who cries each and every time, refuse treatment, food and living in deadly poverty. I dedicated myself to program of PMTCT [prevention of mother to child transmission] whereby I want to fight together with DREAM, so that all mothers who are pregnant should have their babies free from HIV virus.
I have been trained as a VCT counsellor by government and I help the pregnant women in Chirimba, Machinjiri and Chileka. When they are tested positive I always give an example of myself. DREAM is a help for the poor or rich and the hospital is free of charge. I did not pay anything.
I am also involved in health education especially in antenatal where people up to now still don’t believe that HIV can be prevented.
I also do some awareness campaign so that our life must be respected and defended always when it is sick and weak.
We were dying in Africa but God said no through the Community of Saint’ Egidio.
Today we are the fruits that they planted in Africa.
With this short testimony, I am very glad to be in your presence and share with you what the mother community of Sant’ Egidio is doing in Africa. Let’s continue praying for peace, love, joy and unity in Africa and some other continents.
I thank God for restoring the gift of life back in me. God is more than able.