Helplessness Behind

Let me thank my almighty God for giving me this opportunity to share my life history. My name is Pamela Achieng’ Botu, I am 34 years old.

It was in July 2004 when my husband Mr. Obuya was sick all the time and he  could not go to work. At the same time I was ill, I had opportunistic infections  like herpes zoster and I had to seek treatment at Rakwaro Mission Hospital.  It was difficult for us to support our family of 2 boys and a girl.

One day my husband and I were both admitted to Migori District Hospital. At the hospital we were tested for HIV, we were both positive. I couldn’t believe it. I disputed the results and doubted it, but my husband did not comment. By then his health problems had escalated. He developed advanced opportunistic infections like chronic diarrhoea and became progressively weaker as days went by.

I suffered a blow when my husband passed away. My in-laws took everything away and left me helpless, to die; at this time my health deteriorated as well. On my way to the hospital I met George Owino who was working with a community-based organization called DADRA. When he saw me he stopped the vehicle, told me to come aboard, and he took me to the hospital. I was admitted for a period of 7 months and was assisted by friends. Thanks to George Owino, now FACES CCHA Coordinator in Rongo District, for his help during this tough time of my life.

While I was in the hospital I learned that my 2-year old son passed away. I still don’t know where he was buried. I was initiated on anti-retroviral treatment in the ward.

By early 2005 I had improved and I was discharged. The hospital bill was waived by hospital management. My in-laws were surprised to see me back home. Afterwards I received home-based care support from DADRA. I improved and started a self-support project of a kitchen garden. I could do farming though I had a peripheral neuropathy, a side effect on of the anti-retroviral drugs.

My brother-in-law passed away and the family sat down and agreed that I had to be inherited (Luo practice called Jater*) for two widows cannot stay in one home due to our cultural beliefs. I got married, became pregnant and gave birth to a child who is HIV negative.

George Owino used to come to my home to counsel and take me through HIV education. One day he came and asked me to be a peer educator at Migori District Hospital with FACES.

I joined FACES in 2006 as a peer educator. I worked closely with clients conducting adherence counselling, taking vitals, tracing defaulters, and enrolling clients. I wasn’t paid, but I received a lunch reimbursement. In 2008, I was hired by FACES as an office assistant in Migori.

I thank and congratulate the FACES family for the good work of care and treatment they are offering to me, families and communities both HIV-infected and affected.

* Jater is a cultural practice of wife inheritance in which a widow is re-married or “inherited” by one of the relatives to her deceased husband, usually a brother.

March 2010

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