A Nurse’s Story
One of MCAI’s nurses, working with the PMTCT team at the Regional Hospital Bamenda, sent us a story about one of the mothers that she has counseled. This illustrates many of the problems affecting women in Cameroon - poverty, poor access to education, ignorance regarding HIV, and stigma – all remain common.
‘I was the last of 3 girls and never knew my mother because she died when I was just a couple of months old. Growing in poverty without a mother or father was a bitter pill to swallow. Notwithstanding, our grandmother loved, cared and provided for us out of little or almost nothing as she was old and not healthy. I was late going to school, but finally my grandmother raised some money and paid my school fees. Our main source of income came from cultivating and selling sugarcane and beans beside the odd jobs I did.
My desire to have a family and a better home made me a victim in the hands of men who always took me for granted and abused me. The last of them was my daughter’s father who promised to marry me but withdrew when he learned I was pregnant by him. He abandoned me in that state, went back to his ex-girlfriend and married her. I was left all alone without assistance. In the antenatal clinic, I was tested for HIV, and was positive.
Today, I am HIV positive, a single mother with a 4 months old baby to bring up’.
There is a hopeful ending to this sad story. Because of the PMTCT programme, her baby is HIV negative. The mother attends regular follow up with our nurse, and also goes to the parent support group monthly. She has recently found work, promoting testing and counseling for HIV.