Hilma* is a single mother who lives in an informal settlement area on the outskirts of Windhoek. She has been living with HIV for some time but only recently found out her status. Unemployed and bringing up two children, she often wonders if it wouldn’t be better to give them up for adoption. She explains, “My ten-year-old son is also HIV positive and lives with my family in the north of the country. He is constantly sick and struggles to get proper medical care because where they stay is far from the clinic. His father gives me little assistance so I don’t know how I am supposed to support him or ensure that he remains healthy. My baby girl has so far tested HIV negative (she will have the final test at 18 months old in a few months’ time) but she also gets sick a lot. I did not breastfeed her because that’s what the doctors advised, but I think that is why she is not as strong as other children.”
John*, the father of Hilma’s daughter, is a hardworking man but is also living with HIV and this sometimes makes it difficult for him to find a job. Despite this, he is one of the few people I know who has fully accepted his HIV status and is living positively. He currently has a temporary job as a bus driver from Windhoek to the north of the country, but this means that he is often away from Hilma and their daughter. “I want to work hard to support my daughter,” he says, “so I will take whatever job I can get.”
They tell me that my visits have made a great difference to them – knowing that someone cares and being able to talk about their problems. As we meet we also discuss what the Bible says and spiritual issues. Hilma recently asked for a Bible in her home language and was so happy when we were able to give her one. She’s now texting encouraging Bible verses that she finds to her friends!
Living with HIV requires a great deal of dedication, patience and bravery. My role is to support Hilma and John through the ups and downs and pray that they find the true hope available in Christ Jesus.