DATE31 May, 2017
FROM PAIN TO POWER
Bimala Adhikari-( Name Change) who is living with two sons after the death of her husband, is the permanent resident of Sankhu, Kathmandu where most of the people are engaged in agricultural activities for their livelihood. Like others, her main source of income for household comes from agricultural products. She grows seasonal crops especially potato and paddy in her farm. Out of two sons, her younger son has been diagnosed with HIV and he is under ARV medication. He is 12 years old and is studying in class 2. Meanwhile, older son has dropped out of the school and he is working as Bus Conductor. He has been supporting for their household by giving partial amount of his income, which has made their livelihood easier to some extent. But still she does not have much property to live life comfortably.
She has been transmitted with HIV by her husband. Before marrying her, there was another wife in her husband’s life. In the initial phase of their marriage, the couple was very happy. Their life was very tough as they had to work in other’s field to fill their stomach. But they never complained, as both of them were very happy being with each other. The birth of two sons added extra charm to their family life. But, sometimes her husband used to fall sick, which made her tensed. Later, he was seriously ill for many months which made their life more critical. As she had multiple responsibilities; to do household chores, to take-care of small children and ill husband, to cultivate crops because of which her husband did not get chance to eat enough on time, which worsened his health condition day by day. As, entire obligations fell on her own shoulder, it was extremely hard for her to cope up with those circumstances; she says “It was like a nightmare for me”. Later, he was admitted to hospital and during his treatment doctors were unable to found what happened with him. Finally, he was diagnosed with HIV positive but it was too late and her husband past away. After mourn period of her husband, She was suggested to get her health check-up and she went to see the doctor at Teku hospital and she, along with her younger child was diagnosed with HIV. Since, then they have started ARV and their present health condition is good and also, she gets regular check up and follow- up treatment.
In her initial days of being infected, she felt hopeless. Moreover, the death of her husband made her to think that PLHIV will not survive for a longer period of time and the death can knock the door anytime. Her health condition was very poor in the initial phase of being infected. Like her, most of the WLHA has wide range of multiple problems in their life. On one hand, WLHA has to earn on their own for livelihood, despite being illiterate, unskilled and abandoned by family and societies, also they have the responsibility to look after their offspring on the other. The challenge to stay healthy and energetic despite being infected by HIV is yet another important aspect of their living.
At that point of time in her life, Bimala was combating with painful situation of life. During her visit to hospital, she came into the contact of the members of Shakti Milan Samaj (SMS), and from their suggestion she wished to be a member of the Organization as she was in the search of helping hands which could bring her out from the painful situation. After being member of SMS, her life took a new direction, a direction inclined towards positivity. Since one of the goal of SMS is to improve care and support for women and their children living with HIV/AIDS, so she was kept in the Crisis Care Centre(CCC) for a month. After the counseling, regular check-up and the ART treatment, she began to recover slowly. Later, when she was back to her home after staying in CCC for a month, poverty made her life more miserable.
In our society, women who get HIV without being involved in potential risk behavior activity are subject to severe discrimination and isolation from the society. This is the worst behavior that any society can offer. So WLHA have obligation to fight against stigma and discrimination to live a dignified life. All these situations have made WLHA, a most suffered group among PLHIV. Identifying and recognizing the fact that the crucial acknowledgments of the new gender and development paradigm is that women play an important role in societies and are therefore powerful agents for change, SMS has designed and implemented projects based on this concept of development paradigm. One of such projects is Women and children against HIV/AIDS (EWCAH).
Since Bimala is the base member of SMS, during the Focused Group Discussion with the base members, in the project’s initial phase, Bindu showed her interest in expansion of her agricultural area. So, she was supported by the seed money through EWCAH project, which helped her to lease three ropani lands where she started to cultivate seasonal crops like paddy, potato, maize and vegetables. Now, she saves around 25,000 per year by selling potato and vegetables. Since the goal of SMS is to create just societies where women and their children living with HIV/AIDS are free from violence, stigma and discrimination and have access to quality health care, education and economic resources. So as per its goal, the Organization provides educational support for her children. Additionally, monthly nutrition is being provided to her younger son.
Nowadays, she feels being more confident and learnt to live on her own. People who are aware of her being HIV infected treat her in good manner. She has begun to involve in social activities too, as she has build up self confidence. She thanks SMS for filling her life with positive energy and shaping her distorted life. She wishes SMS could enlarge its helping hand and be savior to thousands of women like her.