Rejected by my family and forced to stay in a chicken run

Date: February 14, 2011
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I live in Lusaka’s Kalikiliki compound, one of the high density areas in the capital city of Zambia. My name is John Masuwa. I have  four children left,  while others died and I depend on part time jobs to survive. My wife died many years ago in 1996 when we had less information on HIV/AIDS  in our village.

In 1994, my one daughter died of HIV/AIDS at a hospice after my family refused to assist  me in  looking after her during her illness. I had to look after my wife during her illness and my daughter too, without much help from my relatives and friends. At the time of her death, my daughter was 23 years and she  stayed at the hospice for one year and two weeks because she had no where else to stay . She left behind two children that I am taking care of. Despite refusing to assist of take care of my daughter when she was sick until she  died, three women  relatives went to the hospice without my consent and got my daughter’s body for burial.

Today, I do not know where my daughter was buried. In the same year my family discovered that I was HIV+ and they completely rejected me.  I was forced to seek  shelter in a chicken run for one year and three months  and  still had to look and provide for my grand children and children. Because of my experience, I have formed a support group for People Living with HIV/AIDS with a membership of 45 (32 women and 13 men).   I have also received help from Hospice Community Project in  Zambia, Ministry of Health, ZINGO and USAID to raise  awareness with  posters and brochures for care and compassion. We also give counselling to care givers in  situations as I have experienced. People still do not understand what caring for people who are sick  can do to make them better and be part of a community. We aim to raise these issues and with  support received to date our organisation stands as one that gives information on caring  and also inform care givers  of what resources they can request from government as support. I truly believe that there should be training that is recognised and care givers can become  human resources to help in  communities.

We are the resource support group for care and compassion movement in Zambia which was launched on December 12, 2005. I have now remarried to a fellow HIV positive woman and we are living safely and openly with out status. My children and grandchildren  are also part of the support group in order to help the them heal.

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