Friday, April 5, 2013

Zainabu, a courageous woman

Zainabu and Haasan are a Maasai couple living with AIDS.  When pregnant, Zainabu was tested at the medical clinic and found to be HIV-positive.  Nasula, a home based care worker in our HIV/AIDS Program, counseled her and Haasan, who also tested HIV-positive. Together, they joined the Good Samaritan Group, a support and advocacy group for those living with HIV/AIDS.  Zainabu is inspiring, as in the midst of suffering, including the death of her baby, she is very strong and an example to others.

As Zainabu faces daily challenges related to
her AIDS, she remains an inspiration of hope to others.
As Zainabu has serious uterine and head complications associated with her disease, Sauti Moja supports her travel and treatment. Bi-monthly, Zainabu takes the two-day trip for treatment; first, there are X-rays in Arusha, and then, two weeks of radiation and other treatment in Moshi.  As she is vulnerable to secondary infections, she stays at a guest house rather than the hospital, and a Muslim nurse from the hospital has other Muslim women help feed and care for Zainabu. In an exhausted state, she returns to her remote village.

Living with AIDS presents many challenges for people like Zainabu. She explains that she is weakened by treatment and medications, and often, so tired. Though she does have access to anti-retrovirals (ARVs), these medicines make one feel very sick, if there is inadequate food to eat.  As well, the family and community tends to exclude those with AIDS from social events; for example, eating together, an important part of socializing, ends.  Farmers and their families normally work together for labour-intensive tasks like ploughing and weeding, but generally, others will not help those with this disease.

Zainabu stands with her husband, Haasan on the right
and Karoli, Sauti Moja's Community Health
Zainabu and Haasan face health challenges, food insecurity, and social stigma, but they are determined.  They appreciate that Nasula visits them regularly, provides help around the home, and keeps Sauti Moja informed of concerns. Karoli, our Community Health Facilitator, has organized for ploughing their field and seed and fertilizer loans so that they will be able to produce food for themselves, again. They gain comfort and emotional support from their 13 peers in the Good Samaritan Group.

And, in spite of the stigma, Zainabu traveled to Oltepesi village on World AIDS Day to convince villagers that they cannot tell if someone has HIV, so everyone needs to be tested.  Sauti Moja has utmost respect for Zainabu, as she struggles with her health issues, yet serves in the community that rejects her.

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