HIV-positive woman says, “I have completely changed, mentally and physically.”

In this post: Compassionate care as a tool to stop HIV/AIDS.

“I have completely changed, mentally and physically.

“I am helping others who are suffering from HIV. I discuss with my peers and neighbors about different issues. I encourage people to know their [HIV] status. I am serving as a model for the community.

“People were expecting that I will die soon. But I am still strong, bringing up my children.

“Formerly, I was upset with the elders in the church because they did not visit me in my time of need; however, after I took the training, I started to attend church again. Discussions with other PLWHA [people living with HIV/AIDS] and helping others help me focus on things other than my sufferings. I have now well-built inner strength.”

Who is Zenebech?

She is an Ethiopian mother of four who endured beatings from her husband and chastisement from her peers just for saying she wanted to be tested for HIV. She used to be severely depressed and suffered from constant diarrhea.

But her courage allowed her to discover her HIV-positive status — which opened the door to life-extending antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and compassionate care from Food for the Hungry (FH) staff.

Upon receiving the benefits of compassionate care, Zenebech decided to be trained as a home-based care provider for other HIV-positive people in her community. She built relationships with other care providers and has grown into an active, vibrant advocate for infected people.

Zenebech had all of her children tested and, thankfully, all are HIV-negative. She sends them to school and cares for them as best she can on a small income.

This former shut-in is helping renew and strengthen her community by providing friendship and encouragement to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. She fights stigma and discrimination which, as we learned some weeks ago, is no small task. She also actively urges others to get tested for the virus — a frightening but disease-stopping measure.