2015 World AIDS Day: Celebrate Brenda
We will celebrate Brenda.
You have to follow a series of bumpy, dusty trails to find Brenda’s home. Brenda, her two young daughters, and her teenaged, orphaned niece live together in a one-room home with mud walls and a corrugated tin roof. The furnishings in Brenda’s home are very simple — a twin-sized mattress on the mud floor, a wooden stool, and a small, square table. Brenda’s husband died several months ago, not long after the birth of their now-7-month-old baby, leaving this small home full of females.
Although this mother and her young family have very, very little by any standard of measurement, Brenda will dazzle you with her strength.
For Celebration in Red, Brenda would be happy to tell you the story of what she calls her “secret strength”. For the first 3 years after she knew that she, her 5-year-old daughter and her husband were all infected with HIV, she kept this diagnosis a secret. She was afraid that, if she told anyone at all, she would be isolated and people would see her “as one who deserved to die.”
But Brenda somehow found the strength to share this big secret. First, she told her close friend, Grace. And Grace responded with grace. Then, Brenda told a few other close neighbors, and finally her husband’s family when he was so sick and dying.
She was shocked by their response; they were supportive and positive. They encouraged her to continue with the medicines for HIV, helping her to take care of herself and her children, They told her to be strong. What a difference that makes! Brenda’s story is one of strength because the people around her came and stood with her in love.
Despite her widowhood, despite having to walk for 2 hours to get to the HIV clinic every month – a walk she makes with a 5-year-old and a baby, despite having very little to her name, Brenda takes her medicines faithfully, every day. She ensures her 5-year-old girl gets her medicines, and she made absolutely sure that her HIV was not passed to her baby. Brenda and I have happy tears in our eyes together each time our tests show that baby Susan does not have HIV.
Now, Brenda encourages other mothers to “be free.”
“Tell just one other friend about the HIV and come together to support one another,” she says.
Come to Celebration in Red for World AIDS Day and celebrate Brenda. This is your chance to stand with your brothers and sisters worldwide who are fighting this virus.