By Phakamani Moyo
My name is Phakamani Moyo, I was born in Zimbabwe in 1992.
When I was only 5 years old my mother passed away, and a year later I lost my father as well. When all of this was happening I didn’t understand it because I was still too young. After my parents passed away I was cared for by my grandfather for 5 years.
There was a time that I was invited to visit my father’s relatives, I was very happy to be able to visit them, but a few days later things started to change. My health condition started to deteriorate, I was very sick all the time. So my they started to separate me from everyone else, they gave me my own plate and cup, as well as blankets. They said that I would infect their children if I was not kept separate. When my grandfather heard about this, he sent my uncle to come and pick me up, and brought me back to him. Then my grandmother came said I should go and stay with her, so when I was 10 years old, I moved in with my grandmother. She used different kinds of herbs to keep me strong, because I was always very weak and sick.
At this time I was going to school, because I loved school. But as I was always sick, I was never able to stay in school the whole term. I would go to school two weeks before the term would end but I would still pass as one of the top ten students in the class. I remember one day I was not feeling well and when I was preparing the herbs to drink, I don’t know how but I woke up to find myself on the floor of the kitchen. I heard my grandmother crying and praying out loud, saying “Lord why do you have to take him now that he is grown up.”
A few days later my grandma was advised to take me to the hospital to be tested. So she took me to the clinic and I was tested for HIV, when the results came they told her the outcome of my test. She did not say anything to me, and just took me home. When we got home after a few minutes one of my aunties came to me and said “Don’t worry, you will be fine, I also have the same problem.” I did not understand what she was talking about, but I started taking cotrimoxazole so I quickly go stronger. As I was not always sick I was able to finish my 7th grade. But I could not continue my education as the high school was far from my home. Instead I started taking care of my grandmothers cows.
My aunty came back from South Africa she bought a house in Bulawayo. She asked my grandmother if I had started ART. My grandma told her ART was not yet available, so my aunt asked if I could move with her to the city so I could start ART. In 2009 I moved to the city and was initiated in ART, I got stronger and decided I wanted to go back to school. I went to the department of social welfare so that they could help me to finish my secondary level. They told me for me to go back to school, I would have to stay in one of their centres for home based care. I went there and stayed in their homes and was able to go back to school. But in just two months I started to get sick again, and when I was taken to hospital, the doctors suggested I return home to my aunt. This was very painful for me, as I watched by biggest dreams fade away. It took a while to accept that I would not be able to finish school because of my health condition. But as time went on I started to recover. In 2012 I was able to do a course in cutting and designing and I graduated. After that I started to visit the clinic to encourage others to continue to adhere to their treatment, so they can follow their dreams. From there I was chosen to be a peer supporter under PATA, this opportunity made me very happy. I started advocating for young people living with HIV, creating support groups for young people. When I was younger I used to enjoy singing, and people had told me I had a good voice. So in 2014 I decided to use my musical talents to disseminate information about HIV. I started writing my own songs, and this year I have been able to record 4 tracks encouraging communities to support young people living with HIV.
Now as a young person living with HIV, I still face many challenges in my life. When you are living with HIV, starting a relationship can be very complicated. It is scary to think about disclosing to your partner that you are living with HIV, as you don’t know how they will react, and what will happen after you disclose. Then there is the risk of what can happen to our partners, and even the risks of having children born with HIV.
Editors note: Health care facilities, families and communities should be equipped with knowledge and skills to help adolescents access their Sexual & Reproductive Health andRights.
PATA- Paediatric AIDS Treatment in Africa is an organisation whose goal is to mobilize, strengthen and give voice to a network of frontline healthcare workers to improve paediatric and adolescent HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa.
For more information go to: http://www.teampata.org/