If we are to be given tasks, undoubtedly in this time and place one of the most difficult is to know when and how you are condemned to die. This is the power of HIV/Aids, which, for many, simply being tested for is a harrowing event.
With this virus, the human understanding ever lives in corners of “what if I am positive, I would rather die without knowing the cause.”
For some, though, the diagnosis is a battle of discipline, inner strength, and hope. Standing tall and energetic, Anna Mukakayumba has for thirteen years lived with the knowledge—not just the virus itself—of being HIV positive.
“I have less to do about it because even when I choose to worry nothing will change,” says Anna, who learned of her status when her husband died of the virus in 1994. She says she was too scared at first to take the HIV test because she already knew of her status. Later on, though, she did.
“By that time my last born was only two years old, but he is now 15 and I have high hopes of still watching him grow,” Anna says.
“Earth is not anywhere near my mind.” To Mukakayumba, the virus is a normal disease like others. She talks of sudden deaths like car accidents and cannot imagine the terror involved of ‘never knowing.’
In her association Haguruka Mubyeyi—meaning Arise Parents—she has sensitized over 30 HIV-positive women to do developmental activities, instead of simply “counting down the days.”
With the help of a Seventh Day Adventist volunteer organization ADRA, these women have succeeded in farming and rearing of animals.
“In order to feed well, we have to stand up and work,” says Anna. “An infected person has to eat vegetables, eggs and protein rich foods. The fact that ADRA provides anti-retroviral drugs keeps many hoping for a bright future.
At the age of 57 Anna now brags of drying from old age. “If I have lived 13 positive years, then why can’t I make it to 100?” she asks. She credits her acceptance to helping her toil hard for her children’s future.
Before Mukakayumba had tested, she was always sick, which “really disturbed” her six children, both psychologically and physically.
Today, her first born is in Senior-6 and the last born in Primary-5, and they are studying hard and happily assuring their mother of her progress.
Though as the years pass, certain, inevitable symptoms being to appear. “I had this big wound on my mouth. My little son inquired whether I wasn’t going to die, and this made me sad however I came over it,” says Anna.
At some point Anna thinks the medicines are too strong for her. However, she will live to credit courage and prevention of fear in making her dream come true to live a longer, better life.