[This story was narrated by a young girl to Houlai, a Communitylife competence facilitator during a SALT visit. He is lovingly called Uncle ACP. He wrote this story and would be happy to hear from the members.]
A girl living in Imbung village in Nagaland, Northeastern part of India had a brother who was HIV positive. He started ART treatment and was responding well. There were financially irregularities in the village church affairs. The Church had full faith in this man and had appointed him as the treasurer. He was a man of integrity and soon brought an end to all the financial irregularities. He was highly respected by the villagers. However, when the villagers got a wind of his HIV status, he was thrown out of his job.
His sister was not sure if she could get HIV from caring for her brother but she continued to look after him. After some time the brother’s condition worsened and he passed away. The village council passed a resolution that the dead body of a person living with HIV (PLHIV) would be put in a plastic bag. The close relatives used gloves to pick this man’s body to put in a plastic bag and then placed this bag in the coffin and quickly nailed the coffin. Inspite of the girl’s protests not to nail the coffin and wait for relatives to arrive, no one heed any attention to her pleas.
Thereafter, girl became an outcast in the village and she was looked with disdain as people feared that she was HIV positive. She too thought that she had contracted HIV from her brother and would soon die. However, through SALT visits she heard several stories of people who had overcome worse conditions. She felt that she too could face the situation and may not have to die soon. She was motivated to go for HIV test. The result of the HIV test was negative. She realised that touching and taking care of a positive person does not transmit HIV.
This has given a fresh lease to her life. She now runs a grocery shop and donates Rs 100 (about 2 USD) every month for support of PLHIV. She also volunteers for care of PLHIV and counsels people. She does not want others to be discriminated like her and her brother. She gives CLCP the credit for giving her a new life. She had almost given up. She told Uncle Houlai, “I will always be indebted to the SALT team. May God bless you and the SALT team”.