I talk about my experiences so that women understand that one can live positively with HIV

Woineshet“My name is Woineshet, I am 39 years old and have 5 children – 5 girls. I had six children altogether, but one of them died in their childhood.

"My marriage was difficult – my husband was a violent man. He drank a lot and on those days when he was drunk I would be physically assaulted. Raising children in that environment was difficult. I worked as a maid and baked bread to sell locally so I could feed my children. My husband has since died.

“I heard about Siiqqee from other women in my village and decided to attend the community meetings that Siiqqee had organised. Later I joined one of the self-help groups. I had no idea about saving and proper business management. I was just living from hand to mouth. Through the meetings I learnt a lot – not only about saving and increasing my income but also on the impact of harmful traditional practices, about accessing health care as a woman and keeping my house clean.

"In the last year, I have saved 1,000 Ethiopian Birr (about £40). I can use this money to buy supplies for my small trading business or in times of need. Through the self-help group I have also been able to meet and discuss with other women issues related to HIV and AIDS. I am positive and have lived with HIV for many years before my husband died. I realised that I had to speak about HIV and AIDS to other women in my village. It’s not an easy subject to discuss but many women are dying in ignorance. They don’t know they can seek treatment. So I speak to women in their clubs and groups. 

"Siiqqee has since assigned me to carry out this role of community educator. I talk about my experiences so that women understand that one can live positively with HIV. Even if some people talk about me, I will not give up. Women are affected and they need to know about the infection. I am confident now because of the information and skills I have received from Siiqqee and I have to help other women. I am providing counselling to other HIV positive women. I have also benefitted from my work of talking to other women. I have made a lot of friends and some of them help me on those days when I am not feeling well.  My children are also there to help me. Don’t give up, don’t hide

“My message to other women is don’t give up. Don’t hide yourself – feel free to go out and join other women. That way you get to know more than when you just stay at home.”

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