Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mary’s story reveals vicious circle of poverty and HIV/AIDS

 By Stanley Mpasa
Mary Jonasi, 13 hails from Nkhonya Village in Mulanje and she heads a family of four children after her mother past away.  But before she died, Mary narrates that their situation had been catastrophic.
Soon after she was born, her father, Mr.Jonasi, abandoned them and went to the unknown destination and since then, he has never returned. Her mother got married to another man, Mr Mose. They later had a child who was named Dalitso(Blessing),  now 10 years. The blessing became a curse when Mr.Mose also left  them a few months after Dalitso’s birth. Her mother struggled for a couple of years to raise the children and sending them to school became the last option before she fail in love to another man, Mr Tomasi. The new man stayed for three years and left after the birth of another child Enifa who is now 5 years old. However,  Mr Mose returned three years later and was reunited with the family. A year later another child,  Lony  was born.

Mary further narrated that Mr Mose was a changed man on his seconding coming. He was very cruel. He took turns raping her and she became pregnant. She was forced to abort apparently for fear that relatives might launch an inquiry. Meanwhile, her mother could not do anything because she wanted to protect her marriage. “He used to beat her and abuse her whenever he was drunk and life was miserable for us all” she said. She said her mother became pregnant again but she miscarried because she was beaten several times. She went to the hospital for treatment but continued to bleed again. The matter was reported to police and he was arrested. The man was later released but never returned home. Her mother died later due to miscarriage complications. 
Mary, a brother and sisters in front of their house

 A much closer view of their house.
After the death of her mother, her uncle took care of them for a short time and after he abandoned them, Mary took the responsibility of looking after her two sisters and a brother.
Mary said that a local organization FOMO (Friends of Mulanje Orphans) sometimes gave them food items. She said did survive by collecting firewood from Mulanje Mountain which sale and feed the family. During maize harvest time, she said she did some casual labour by helping people to harvest their maize at a fee or in exchange for some of the grain.
 In 2011 Mary fell seriously ill and when she went to the hospital for treatment, while there, she,   she tested for HIV and was found to be positive. “ I am currently on  Anti retroviral Treatment ( ART) but I face so many challenges to access food to compliment with the drugs” she said. To make things even worse, their small house fell on one side last year because of the rains. A nearby community based group later built them another house but it fell too because the rainy season started before it was roofed.
In a turn of events, ADRA Malawi through the TOT Project has given Mary several counselling sessions on positive living, food items and money. TOT counsellors are visiting Mary frequently to offer psychosocial counselling. 
Kitchen utensils that they use.

Mary has also been encouraged to go back to school. She is now in std 3, Dalitso in std 2, Enifa in std 1 and Lony is attending preschool education at FOMO.
Mary is appealing for more support from individuals and organizations to help them meet their daily needs. 
The Trainer of Trainers for Counsellor Preparation in Africa (TOT) Project is implemented by ADRA Malawi with funding from ADRA Sweden. It is involved in the training of Community based Counsellors who raise the awareness of HIV/ AIDS and the related services that are available. They also encourage Community members to go HIV Testing. The Project works closely with the SDA Church.

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