Education starts with my children

door Eliane

Eliane en AkiraWhen it comes to stigma around HIV and Aids , parents do anything  it takes to protect their children. I have been doing so for years! But for how long was I going to protect them? At some stage I would have to let it go.  Being pregnant I used to talk to the baby inside me. I shared my pain and my happiness. I could tell him how excited I was to receive him in this world. With time progressing and him being there in this world I started worrying  about the day he will know about my status,  about the day his friends will find out. I started imagining him being rejected because of his HIV  positive mother.

I took me a while, but a year ago I decided to disclose to most adults, including parents of my son’s friends. I have become an activist to get HIV accepted.
I talk a lot with my kids. They know I have diabetes and that I have to take medication every day. What if one day they will grow up and find out I have been hiding this piece of  information from them? They may as well never trust me again. How could  I defend  to be open to the world and leave my beloved ones behind? They are the main reason why I am doing this in the first place!
So, I have decided  to empower my children. The youngest  is always very curious. He shows keen interest in what is going on in our life. He  likes to help  for example when it comes to cooking, gardening. He loves  African storytelling, and asks about me when I was little and what kind of game I played in Africa. I think he is ready to know.

How do I tell my children?
My 14 years old daughter knows about my hiv status, but my two boys are unaware. They were born when I knew I am HIV positive.  So, the  moment of discovery for them was yet to come. I  decided to openly talk about my status without scaring them. I am proud to share with you the very interesting conversation I had with my youngest son Akira.
“Mama you have a lot medications are all of them for diabetes?”
“No, they are for something else.”  Immediately I felt that he is ready to get the truth now.
He asked : “What do you mean something else?”

The dragon is asleep
I know he likes to watch cartoons with dragons, so I choose to use the dragon as a name for HIV.
“Akira, mama has a virus, this one is like a dragon in my blood. He has been there for many many years.”
“Mama, does the dragon spit fire?”
“No, because I take medication every day, the dragon is now very weak. The medications put out the fire. The dragon  is asleep in a corner of my blood. He can no longer play and move and dance around in my blood.”
He asked “How can someone get a dragon?”
I answered: “Through contact with  blood of someone who has a dragon and who is not taking medication. Many people have the  dragon in their blood, but they do not know because they did not yet do the blood  test.”
He asked again, all excited: “ Wow, mama, do I also have the dragon?”
“ Good question! But  you don’t have a dragon, because when you were in my tummy I already  took the medication daily  to keep the dragon asleep, so that he could not touch you. You were born without  the dragon! Yihaaaaaaa ! And now I am trying to tell the world that the dragon in my  blood does not harm me or anyone close to me! You can hug me, the dragon can not touch you. He is sound asleep.”

I want a dragon too!
He asked again: “So, I don’t have a dragon?” I affirmed. He said: “What a pity” And a bit later: “I would like to have medication as well. But, how do you feel inside? Does it hurt?”
I said it does not hurt “But I have to keep controlling the dragon with medication and  sometimes medication can make me  feel sick for a few days, but afterwards I  am fine again.”
“When you feel sick let me know, I will make you a cup of tea!”
He gave me hug and said:  “I love you mom, you are my super mama!”

I raise stigma fighters
After this conversation I felt relieved to see how well and easy he took this information. I guess that when you bring up news with a positive mind, people will take it in positive way and there is no rejection. If you are being  rejected,  it is probably because they have no idea what you are talking about. Focus on a positive way of explaining, drop every negative judgement and just move on with it, to end stigma.
That is how I visualise  the empowerment of the new generation. They will speak up with no fear and the world will change. Starting with the next generation, where they will see  that mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, girls and boys survived HIV and stigma. They lived their lives and were able to function.
I am proud to play my part. I am raising  future ambassadors and  stigma fighters. Together we can change the world and the change starts with us!

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10 2015

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  1. 1

    Fabulous !!!!

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