People helped me, now I want to help

During my visit to Samara Laurence asked me to interview one of the Russian friends as ‘member of the month’ for our Constellation Newsletter. I chose to follow Alexei, he is a special person. The story below is the result of various conversations during the week and his contributions during the SALT visits.

I am Alexei, from Samara, Russia. I grew up in an addicted family: alcohol and drugs were always there. It was a hard environment for a child to grow up. I was at the point of dying when something in me decided things had to change. It was a long way, but I became clean, with the help of God and the people around me. I am very proud of that. But, as a result of this life I got all health problems that come with it: I became infected with HIV, and I got Hepatitis. I learned to cope with this. I have adapted a healthy life style and that means a lot to me. I recently learned that I have diabetes as well. Well, I know now I can handle that too!
My biggest pride are my wife and my two children. We adopted a child and now also have our own little boy. I am proud that I did not infect my wife and together we have a healthy son. He is 7 months now. He is a full copy of me. Sometimes I joke to my wife that she is my copy machine: that much he looks like me!
I know that my mission in life now is to help others. People helped me, now I want to help, not only those who are addicted to drugs or find out they have HIV, I know I can support any person that is going through difficult times, by listening and standing by. I was an inspiration for my own father who I have always known as a alcoholic – he is clean now. Wow, I am also proud of that!
But, hey, I am also a normal guy. I sing in a choir and I play theater. And when I argue with my wife, it is not about me being positive. We argue about who wakes up in the night to change the baby and about who will do the dishes!

Last month, with the support of UNAIDS, we had our first knowledge fair in Samara. We brought together people from various parts of society. We had also guests from Kazan, Moscou and Kiev, and coaches Ian, Sirinate and Marlou joined. The oblast of Samara knows an infection rate of 2.3 percent among the 15-49 years old. The highest rate in the whole of Russia!
For me this was a beautiful week. Together with Elena who is also a Constellation facilitator, we brought together our friends and actors from our city. With them we acknowledged that we are all human, that we can share and learn together and that we need each other to progress. During one of the SALT visits to disabled people I really admired how they help people and their families to accept their new life after an accident or illness that makes them dependent on a wheel chair. I will join their interactive trainings and I will bring this approach to people who find out they are HIV positive.

When I close my eyes and dream of the future for myself and for Samara I see myself, my wife and our children outside in front of a house. We are happy, playing, and the sun is shining. From our garden you can see the Wolga, beautiful and clean. There are other houses, and other happy families outside. My dream is that in that neighborhood we communicate, collaborate and take care of each other. That is what Samara can be like and I am determined to contribute to that.

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Comment by Onesmus Mutuku on March 25, 2014 at 2:31pm

Beautiful to see how care for others leads to prevention. These two elements are never in compartments but inter linked. Because i care for my wife, i did not ...... Those are great strengths! 

Comment by Jeanne d'Arc Kengne on July 24, 2011 at 1:21am
Ouauuuuu, c'est vivante cette histoire. Le fait ou Alexei est acteur de son propre histoire. il a des mots pour traduire ce qu'il ressent et comment gérer ces sentiments. Il reconnait ces forces et comment l'utiliser pour lui même et pour son entourage.
Merci Marlou pour ce partage et félicitation a Alexei pour cette histoire qui regorge assez d’énergie pour les lecteurs.
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on July 23, 2011 at 11:57am

When we give back to the community without any selfish motive we feel so fulfilled. Care and concern for our community members builds a strong community.


Alexei's story I will share with many others. I would like also like to share a story from Uncle Houlai from India. This story is about a girl called Bani who decided against suicide because of the SALT visit.


Later I followed up with this story, this girl joined the SALT team. And when I met her in an ACP event she was very excited. She shared that she had finally been able to encourage a couple to get their HIV test done. The couple were HIV positive and the woman had just become positive. Now the woman could avert HIV transmission to her baby. Bani told me " the goal of my life has been achieved. Few month ago SALT team gave me hope to live and today I could give back as a SALT team member."


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