Ajija is a Grandmother Working for the Women of Hope. She wrote us describing how the Women of Hope has helped her in her life.
I was married with two children when I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2002.
At first, I could not believe it. My eyes were open, but it was like trying to see through the darkness. I felt paralyzed knowing I had the terrible disease I’d heard about on the television and radio. All I could think about was how I might die from the disease.
Many with HIV were dying at that time.
I first heard about the sewing program and the Mashiah Foundation when I went to an HIV-positive support group at a big hospital. The Mashiah Foundation gave me medicine and told me to take it with good food—the problem was that I didn’t have any food in my house.
I said, “Thank you for the medicine, but I don’t have any food to take it with.”
A man from the foundation checked his pockets, but he didn’t have any money. He went out and borrowed some money and gave it to me. The same thing happened the next week.
He then asked his wife to start a sewing program for HIV-positive women so they could earn money to care for themselves and their families in 2003. Since then, many HIV-positive women have been given a new lease on life.
I don’t know my age, but I’m a mother of 2 and a grandmother of 5. I started taking antiretroviral drugs in 2004 and still take them faithfully.
I cannot express in words how grateful I am for the work I have through the Women of Hope. This is what is keeping me alive. I am thankful that this place has embraced me, regardless of my HIV. Even in the church, people used to move away from me. Now, I am proud to be a woman of hope. Once, I was without hope—but the Women of Hope and Rafiki have given me courage and a bright future.
Know the names and stories of the artisans whose products you purchase when you shop at the Rafiki Exchange.