In the Mzimba District in Malawi, the local church is making a difference in its communities. One member, Elube Makwakwa, is part of the St. Joseph Support Group for those living with HIV/AIDS. In January, she lost her 45 year old son and is now taking care of her grandchildren. She has faced many challenges but shares her story of hope here:
I was unable to support myself, economically forced to live a reckless life. I was totally blank without knowing what to do with my life. Being divorced made it even harder for me to start taking on jobs culturally known to be men’s.
In 2006, I went for an HIV test after getting suspicious about my health, and I tested positive. This was a big blow to me and the family because we felt being found positive was as good as being dead. Life was miserable with no hope.
I used to think God was punishing me for my evil past. Honestly, I had no peace let alone the courage to stand before God.
It was late in 2009 when I attended a Positive Living Training which enlightened me and opened a new chapter in my life. We formed a support group where we encourage one another and develop ways forward for our future.
Through World Relief, I have had opportunities to attend many training sessions on health, nutrition, micro-enterprise, agricultural production and marketing. They have helped me to stand on my own.
My life is purposeful; I grow crops such as tomatoes, maize and soya. I also raise pigs and do income savings. I make simple rations from indigenous vegetables, bananas and Irish potatoes. In addition, I have a back yard vegetable site for nutritional needs. World Relief gave me tomato plants. After selling the tomatoes, I used the money to buy fertilizer for crops and pigs, and now I am able to sustain production for a better livelihood and have been saving some of my money for future use.
Now, my life is an example to emulate by the community. I now believe that being HIV positive is not the end of life. I have survived for 11 years since I tested positive. I thought I would die soon but through Positive Living Training, I have lived a healthy life and am able to support my family. I also live a prayerful life because I know God has solutions to all my needs and problems. I spend time counseling my neighbors who are undergoing various challenges of life, including HIV/AIDS infected people. I admit that AIDS is real and can kill. It is my prayer that God will intervene to mitigate or eradicate it.