“I had no hope. I was living in despair and rejected my life after being diagnosed with HIV,” reveals Honoree Nyirahagumimana, one of the beneficiaries of Imbuto Foundation.
Today, she speaks with courage.
“There was a time I wished for death. Life had become meaningless. I prayed and God answered my prayers.
When I pray, something special happens. For instance, I prayed and Imbuto Foundation came to my rescue,” says Nyirahagumimana happily.
The 37- year old and the mother of two tested positive to HIV infection in 2003 through Prevention Mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme when she was pregnant with her second child.
PMTCT is a health programme that aims at preventing HIV infection among prospective parents – an intervention that provides drugs, counseling and psychological support to help mothers safeguard their infants against the virus.
Nyirahagumimana gave out this testimony on Thursday this week during the event to celebrate Imbuto Foundation’s 10 years of engaging, educating and empowering the youth and Rwandan families.
“When I tested HIV positive nine years ago, the road map for how to die with this condition seemed clear. I really thought that I was going to die in the next few days. I sobbed uncontrollably. But I did not die,” says Nyirahagumimana.
“After being diagnosed, I immediately went into a year of complete denial. I never talked about it or did anything about it. I spent five months sobbing uncontrollably. But the doctors at the PMTCT health centre encouraged me. They advised me to start taking antiretroviral drugs and gave me a comprehensive care consisting of counseling and psychosocial support.”
Her life came back to normal after joining the Musanze District Family Package program of the Imbuto Foundation in 2009.
The Family Package that was initiated by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame in 2002 was developed to build on the benefits of PMTCT interventions by extending basic care and support to parents living with HIV and their children. It’s now implemented in eight health facilities across the country.
Other than just providing care and treatment to families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, the project also contributes to socio-economic empowerment and through the facilitation of income generating activities.
Nyirahagumimana who hails from Cyabarirake Cell, Muhoza Sector in Musanze District says that after joining the Family Package programme, her life changed.
“I was given inclusive care consisting of counseling and psychosocial support by the Imbuto foundation and that’s when I started thinking about trying to fight this thing inside me. I now work with Twuzuzanye an association of people living with HIV/Aids in Musanze District.”
Nyirahagumimana now looks healthy and lives a better life and she attributes it to Imbuto Foundation’s care and support.
“After giving birth I was worried that my baby was also infected, but I tested her three times and all the results were negative. I am a very happy woman now despite the fact that I am infected with HIV. My children are in school. My husband is living a better life,” she says.
She is engaged in income generating projects like tailoring and mushroom growing and she plans to sensitise people in her communities to live a healthy life and not to be stigmatised once they are infected with HIV/Aids.
Nyirahagumimana is one of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans who have benefitted from Imbuto Foundation.
For the last decade, the organisation has provided education scholarships to 6,000 students, and rewarded 5,000 girls for outstanding performance in national exams. It has also provided direct support to 218,500 beneficiaries with 200,000 of them receiving health insurance, Mutuelle de Sante.
Imbuto Foundation has also helped 355 vulnerable families set up income-generating activities to lift themselves out of poverty. While another 7,500 beneficiaries have participated in the organisation’s youth forum series.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Kagame said: “The willingness to work with us is humbling and encouraging, my heartfelt appreciation goes to the beneficiaries of our programmes who inspired us daily and we are happy to have had beneficiaries who assured us that what we are doing is great.”