11/08/18 by Global Health Innovations
Emmy and her husband lived with their children in the South Rift Valley in Kenya. They were a lot like any other family; “Life was good,” Emmy says.
One day, Emmy’s husband became sick, and one of her children, only three years old, grew sick too. Her young child lost his battle for life soon after.
When Emmy became pregnant again shortly after her three-year-old child’s death, she was tested for HIV and learned she was positive — and she knew now that her baby had likely passed away because of AIDS.
“That is when I came to know,” Emmy says to us bravely, “that HIV is a bad disease.”
Emmy described her feelings as her life began to crumble around her at the relentless assault of HIV/AIDS. “After being diagnosed with HIV, it was very hard,” she says. “I was not seeing a life ahead of me anymore.”
Emmy tells us about how family and neighbors rejected them because of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS; how she was unable to get a job; and how she did the best she could to care for her children as the sole healthy supporter of the family.
Emmy’s husband was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS shortly after Emmy’s own diagnosis. He was put on treatment, but after bearing the weight of both the physical and emotional burden of HIV/AIDS for many years, he committed suicide.
Emmy took strength from her faith in God’s guidance and protection and agreed to start on treatment for herself in order to help prevent her unborn baby from being born HIV positive. Emmy’s health improved immediately — and her son was born HIV negative because of her brave decision to face the disease.
Emmy was placed with a group of fellow women who counseled her in coping with her situation. “That is how I came to stand up and become strong,” Emmy says.
Today, Emmy is a voice for hundreds of pregnant women who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves HIV positive, often feeling that there is little hope for them or their baby. Emmy works at the clinic where she herself received treatment, extending a hand of life-giving hope to those who doubt that life can ever go on after the HIV/AIDS diagnosis.
“Being HIV positive is not the end of life,” Emmy tells us with conviction. “You can still live — because I am living,” Emmy tells her patients. “I am living, and youwill live.”
One HIV positive mother whose life Emmy has deeply impacted told us, “I felt so bad [when I was diagnosed]. I thought that it was the end of the world. But at long last, I got my counselor here, Miss Emmy. She told me of her status. She told me she was positive. And I thought to myself, all these years she’s been positive and living negatively. Her advice and counsel made me to be a bit strong. And I knew that I can live as healthy as she is.”
Emmy continues to work tirelessly to help us manage the HITSystem in a rural hospital in Kenya. She offers HIV/AIDS medications, ARVs, counseling, and hope to the vulnerable whose lives are under attack by this vicious disease.
The GHI has come alongside Emmy and countless other brave mothers, staff, and volunteers like her to empower them in uniting to stop the cycle of HIV/AIDS in its tracks.
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