Every day BMC starts its work in the same way.
A lot of patients arrive at CTC . Some of them come for the first time the others have their regular scheduled examination.
There is a short lecture-conversation led by one of the doctors at around 8.15 . The doctor tells about what medical specialists how and why each of the patients need to see and gives patients a short description of each procedure. After this conversation three always smiling people begin their work with patients.
More than anyone else they understand all the feelings, worries and fears of each patients. And they as no one else are always able to find right words for every single person who addresses to them. You might ask me “why”? Because once they experienced it too. They didn’t only overcome but dedicated their life to helping people with the same diagnosis and they set good role models to prove that AIDS is not a conviction and life continues and life goes on.
So..today I want to introduce you one of these people. His name is Shija Mashimba. 20 years ago he found out he had AIDS.
Last 12 years of his life he has devoted to such people as him. He helped them to acept their new conditions and HIV status.
Can you share your feelings when you knew that you have AIDS? What was the biggest fear you had? What scared you the most ?
It was in 1994. At that period of time there weren’t any educators and any information about AIDS. I was disappointed and frustrated. It was really unexpected. At that period of time it seems like the end of my life and I didn’t have any hopes for the future.
How much time did it take you to cope with it?
Three months…I was just coming to hospital and was talking a lot with counselors . I was receiving more and more information and in three months I accepted my new status and believed that I can live with it.
What about your close friends and relatives? How fast did they accept and understand your HIV positive status?
For my wife it didn’t take a long time to accept it, but other relatives and other people outside the family didn’t understand me for two years. It was difficult to express to other people all feelings and there wasnt any information about AIDS and it needed ( took ) two years for them to accept this.
Where and How did you start your activity as an educator and a counselor?
Perhaps, you wanted to help someone, to share your experience and tell that life goes on and people can and must live?
I should admit that it was really difficult for me to accept my new status and there weren’t many people ready to share their feelings to become the example and inspire. I spent a lot of time in the center of support people who have AIDS. I spoke to people who have the same situation and together we try to overcome it. I knew and understood a lot about how to live with HIV and I was ready to share my experience. Time was going by but to reveal my status was still hard but I felt its importance. My first step to go through it was lecture on the radio. Many people listened to my voice. The second step was lecture on the television when people saw me in person. After that when I came back to the center of support I received an official proposal to be an educator.
What do you think is the biggest difficulty that people who have AIDS face?
The main problem is privacy. It is difficult for other people to understand this situation and to be closer to a person with AIDS after they have known that a person has AIDS. They stop spending time together, don’t invite a HIV person to their company, don’t eat together and don’t do many other things.
What do you think our society lacks in building an appropriate attitude to treat and care about these people?
There is not enough educational information about AIDS, especially in the villages. They know a little or they are not informed at all. They need to know more about HIV.
I am certain that you have definitely had a case when you realized that you had changed a person’s disposition to the question of AIDS?
I had a lot of objecting and misunderstandings when I did a proposal to my wife. She is not HIV infected. And a lot of people advised her not to marry me and told that she didnt understand what she was going to do.
Could you tell a little about your family?
I have a wife and four children. My children were planned and were born when I knew about my HIV status. My wife and all my children have negative HIV status.
What are the key points you discuss when you speak to people with HIV status?
The first I teach them that drugs are very important and drugs are not for quarrel. People shouldnt stop and forget to have retroviral medicine and they need to visit a hospital according to the schedule.
The second I tell them about me. I have been living with AIDS for twenty years. I became a family man and life goes on.
What is a slogan or an idea which leads you through your life?
God knows everything and it is very important for people to depend on God and accept everything that appears in your life. Also education is very important and education is foundation of the life.
What would you like to wish to all people?
I think that all people should take an HRV test. We cant be sure exactly that we havent got AIDS even if today we are absolutely healthy. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow everything will be ok. So I advise every person to have an HRV test regularly.