I’m HIV positive, strong and active…

I’m HIV positive, strong and active…

This is the true story of Sarafina Dalamsi, a 30-year-old single mother of two who is HIV/Aids positive, as she narrated it to ANTHONY JOHN.

I was born 30 years ago in Iringa Region. I never knew my father. My mother died when I was a class three 12 years old girl.
My mother was a house girl for an Indian family in Bagamoyo, Coast Region. Her Indian boss, I came to learn later, raped her. That is how I was conceived. That is why I am a half-caste.

Years after my mother died, I went to look for the man who sired me. He was gone. He was dead. But my step brothers and sisters wouldn’t accept me as one of their own. They said I was the product that destroyed their father’s life.
After ma’s death, I stayed with my grandma. She was a loving woman, very caring, but she was very poor. We had to collect firewood in the forest and sell it to get school fees, which were very small amount.

Yes, I remember we were required to pay 20/- for books and 100/- for school fees. This was at Tanangozi primary school. Raising the amount meant the loss of classes for several weeks.
With all the difficulties, including some nights with little or no food, I reached standard seven. Unfortunately, I failed my final exams. My grandma’s faith and love kept me going. Her love was always unconditionally there for me.

With her, there was a purpose for living. Working with her and assisting her as she grew older. She was suffering from cancer, and I was nursing her. When she died at the age of 92, it hit me hard. She was the closest person to me. My whole life had encompassed her. Who was going to stay with me? My life changed. I was never the same again.

My grandpa rejected me from the moment I was born. He never recognized me as one of her grandchildren, but my grandma’s love compensated for the pain of rejection. Now she was no more.
Shortly after grandma was buried, a kind relative got me a job as a house girl in Morogoro town.

I, too, like my mother, was working for an Asian family. My employer was kind and very understanding. I thought now I could rebuild my life for the memory of my ma and grandma.

My life was going on well. I was living in the servant’s quarters of the family house, where I was working.
One day, while shopping in the town, I met a man. We fell over heels in love in time. During my free time, I would visit him. He promised to marry me, and I thought I was the happiest girl on mother earth. I thought finally, now, I would have a family of my own.

This man was the first man in my life. Yes, the only man up to now that I have ever slept with.
It felt so good to be loved. After my ma and grandma’s death, no one else loved me. Relatives are looking at me like a tick in their midst. It was very painful, and here comes a loving man promising to live with me for the rest of my life. What else could I ask for in life?

My heart was full of bliss. And I felt that I had reached the apex.
My short-lived dream of happiness was shattered when I informed the man I was pregnant with his kid. I will never forget how he reacted. He kept silent and later told me never to return to his house.
It was so painful. I loved him and never thought he would ever do such a beastly action to me. What would I do? I saw my whole world crumbling. But I had a kid in my womb. I would not abort. Never. If my mother brought me up, why should I kill my child? I was very sorry for my kid still. She would be born and live without a father. Just like me. This made me cry very much. It was very painful. But I would live on for my baby in my womb. Yes I was determined.

I later leant the man I loved so much was married. He was cheating me. He had never mentioned that he was a family man. He had told me he was single and I was the woman of his life. “I love you, I don’t love another woman” he kept on hammering those words to me whenever we disagreed on any issue. Now this man was gone. Gone and gone just because I was pregnant.
When my pregnancy became apparent, I had to leave my job. I went back to the village. I forced myself into the lives of my people who rejected me. This was one of the most trying moments of my life.

How I managed through the whole pregnancy to giving birth, only through sheer willpower and the mercies of God. My perseverance was rewarded, and I gave birth to a baby girl and called her Safina. This was in January 1996. Looking at her gave me so much joy; it was very gratifying.
When the baby was a few months old, I approached my former employer, and she agreed to reemploy me. She rented a room where I would be putting up with my child.

Then after one year, the man who messed up my life resurfaced again. He said he was sorry. I was happy at least my kid would know who his father was. I never even knew what the face my dad looked like.
I fell into his trap. I slept with him again. When I informed him I was pregnant, he ran away again. Since then, I have never seen him. I Am told he does business in Dar es Salaam.

Sometimes I think I was a fool to accept him back and in my own house. But my desire to have my kid enjoy ‘fatherhood’ was so strong. I gave in to all his demands for my kid to have a father.

I gave birth to my second-born child in 1998. He was sickly at the beginning but grew strong as days went by. All along, personally, my health wasn’t so bad, but I was suffering from a venereal disease that, after treatment, wouldn’t go away.

By 2002 I had developed rashes in my body, and I was really worried about my health. I started suspecting that I was HIV positive, but I was dreading undergoing a test.

When I visited Faraja Trust Fund Centre here in Morogoro, I got counselling and finally agreed to have the test. My worst fears were confirmed. I was positive. Despite all the counselling, I felt the disclosure hit me like a thunderstorm.
Luckily Faraja cenre stood with me up to now. I accepted my status. I decided to take charge of my life. I told the people who knew me that I was HIV positive. I told everyone I was positive and later started participating in anti-HIV campaigns.

This has given me joy and renewed the purpose of my life. Yet, confessing you are positive in public has its perils. People call me mama Ukimwi. My children have been discriminated against and abused because their mother is an AIDS victim.

But you know what? I’m HIV positive, strong and active. I am very glad Faraja Centre has employed me. Here we have a doctor who uses herbal medicines, which helped me recover from the VD. I no longer feel weak. I feel young and full of life. I will not die today or tomorrow, not even the day after tomorrow. I believe I will be able to see my children grow into adulthood. They are the love of my life.

As for my firstborn, I am sure she is HIV-free, but I am not so sure about the secondborn. But I have faith. He is very healthy; still, I dread taking him for a test….
And the father of my children, He is the only man I have ever slept with. He gave me HIV/Aids, but I will not let him destroy me. Yes, I will live on…