EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER
Mary Goretti Boroswa was one of AMPATH’s first HIV patients treated in 2002. As her health improved, she became a bicycle racer who dared to put AMPATH and her HIV status on her racing jersey, despite the enormous stigma. Today she is a school leader, HIV advocate, and county legislator fighting for better health for all.
My name is Mary Goretti Boroswa. I am married and blessed with six children. My youngest children are twins, named Mercy and Faith. I gave my twins these names because of the infection I discovered in me in 1999. I did not know I was infected until I delivered my twins. I thought I might be HIV positive, but at the time I did not want to know. I was scared because of the information I had seen and heard.
I finally decided to go and get checked. I was referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. I remember I was in room 179. I will never forget this. This is the only room where they check you for an HIV diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed, the reality of my condition hit my very hard. I felt very helpless in this moment.
Eventually I accepted that this is my new reality, however, it cannot define me.
When I finally came back to the hospital, I learned of AMPATH and that is when I met Professor Mamlin. We believe he was a godsend to us.
My husband and I set up some goals for our family. Our goals were to give our children a good education, a permanent home, and good health. I began to send my children to academy schooling.
I also knew we needed to save for a good house. With good health being a goal as well, I took up cycling. I engaged in this so much that I began competing. This allowed me to win prize money at the local and national level. Prof bought me a modern bicycle which made my cycling more efficient. With the prize money, I began buying cement to start a foundation for our new home. Once I earned enough, construction would begin. I am proud to say that three years later, we completed the construction!
Time has gone by.
Thanks to AMPATH I have more energy and my health has improved. If it were not for the AMPATH team, I would not be alive today. Before Professor Mamlin, many people lost their lives. Many people lost their children. No one was able to receive help. HIV destroyed communities, people and families.
I want to tell AMPATH and Professor Mamlin – thank you. Professor Mamlin went the extra mile when no one else would. He cleared bills for people. He gave of his time. He poured everything he had into our communities to help fight diseases and the stigma of HIV/AIDS. There is nobody like him. I have often thought where I might be today if had not been for Professor Mamlin and AMPATH.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
Currently I am a legislator in the country government of Uasin Gishu representing the minority groups in the society and spearheading HIV issues and stigma surrounding it.
Through these experiences with HIV/AIDS, I have decided I want to support other people. I want to do this as my life’s work. My goal is to encourage others and walk alongside them through life experiences.
I have accomplished a lot since I was diagnosed. I was promoted from classroom teacher to a head teacher and am in charge of three schools. I work diligently and have gone back to school. I joined Moi University and graduated in 2012. Currently, I am enrolled in a master’s program and am looking forward to graduating soon. I am now part of the affirmative action for HIV and AIDS.
I am a champion for the people living with HIV and AIDS in our community. My experiences and stories are what have made me a strong woman in society and a strong woman for my family. I am someone people can depend on and I want to be known as a resource for women living with HIV. I believe that experience is the best teacher of life. I am living, breathing proof of this.
I am looking forward to partnering to join hands and support people living with HIV.
Special thanks to Kelly Bennett and Brian Chou from Eli Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad for their assistance in telling Mary’s story.