When I was 15 I used to stay with my Mom in Richmond. I got pregnant and the father denied the pregnancy. Straight after giving birth to my son, my mother started selling tomatoes to support my son and I. She was not well at the time. She was HIV positive and had many health problems. Everyday she got more and more sick and was admitted to hospital for 3 months. During those days I had support from some friends who helped me with transport costs and food. Then my mother passed away while she was in hospital. I started dating a guy called Elliot and he helped me financially because I was unemployed and couldn’t look after my son. I got pregnant and he said the baby was not his and he ran away. When I was 9 months pregnant he came back. I gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. He then said we should go and stay together at his mother’s place. Weeks later we were supposed to get tested for HIV but he refused and I ended up going alone. To my surprise I found out I was HIV positive and I didn’t know what I was going to say when I got home. I found courage and told him my status and he was not at all surprised he just laughed. He went to work and sent me a text message saying he was sorry for putting me through all the things he had done. I then knew it was his fault that I was HIV positive. My mother’s close friend insisted on looking after my first son because he was not welcome at Elliots mother’s house. His mother didn’t even like me. She insulted me all the time, saying I am not her daughter because my mother is lying in a cold place and I was useless because I couldn’t get income. I was always locked indoors and wasn’t allowed to step a foot outside. Until one day I sneaked out with my twins to the clinic to see a nurse who was close to me. I then told her I was looking for a job so I could get somewhere to rent and buy food. She looked at my kids then refused to get me a job but said she knows a place where I could take refuge. She called the Sandra Jones Centre and I was accepted to go and stay there with my children. At the Sandra Jones Centre I got enrolled in the vocational skills training program. I started discovering that I had potential to be greater than what I was. I am now leading the SJC choir and I have the most beautiful garden and I am the best designer in the sewing class.
Not longer after I started at SJC someone gave us a greenhouse. It was a lot of work preparing the ground. We had to dig long trenches to plant the seeds for the vegetables to grow. And we had to move lots of soil, compost and hummus. Over 20 tons and we just had a wheelbarrow. Even though it was hard work, it was fun working with the other girls. We learned the importance of team work. Aunty Debbie taught us how important it was to lay a good foundation. Not just in the greenhouse but in our lives as well. When we found out there was another greenhouse coming we laughed and told the new girls it was their turn to prepare the ground. Now that we are getting lots of tomatoes and peppers we are very proud of our hard work.
For the first time it feels like I just took my first breath. I feel so special, so loved, and so valuable beyond compare. Now I am starting to read and write cause I had dropped out of school when I was in 11 to take care of my mother who was temporarily blind. I have found love at SJC and I am grateful for all the things they have done and are still doing for me. The dress me, feed me, and take good care of my health and my children. They are helping me start a bond between my first son and me, which overwhelms me cause he never received affection from me. When I leave the centre I plan to go and live with my Granny. She has a plot of land where I will be able grow my own crops and sell them at the market to support myself and my children. I want my children to be able to go to school and to grow up knowing they are loved and to love the Lord.
The team here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS thanks you for supporting this project and the work we do for the children in Africa. As you start to make decisions regarding your end of year giving, please keep us in mind so we can continue our good work into 2018 and beyond. We wish you a new year full of many blessings and as much hope as you have shared with us. If you would like to learn even more about what we do or how you can meet some of the children you have helped, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org.
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