A True Life Story of Maurine living strong and healthy with HIV Virus, when she tested HIV positive Maurine of Nakuru Kenya scarcely had an idea what HIV meant. Now at 26, she is one of the foremost HIV activists in our town Nakuru and its environs.
She tested HIV positive in 2004 and she was only19 years old and now she is 26 years old having lived with the virus for 7 years. The reason she went for an HIV test was because she had been sick and bed ridden for about 2 years being treated for chest pains and thus her doctor at that particular time thought it prudent for her to go have a TB test. Due to the financial constraint that her family was going through having exezosted all the money her parents had saved in treating her for the 2 years that she had been bed ridden going for the test was not about to happen anytime soon. Luckily a friend of hers came in handy and as they say “a friend in need is a friend in deed” because he offered to bail her out by paying for her test at the provincial General hospitals laboratory. She was asked to go collect her results after 2 weeks and to her shocker the medics refused to hand over the results to her insisting that she should be accompanied by somebody and luckily on that particular day she was with her friend who was waiting for her at the waiting bay, so she went back and called him to accompany her and that’s only when the results were handed to her friend but only after her consent. it is Maurine’s friend who first told her about her being HIV positive and I bet this information came into his hands when he remained behind to talk to the Lab practioner and to her surprise her friend told her that he knew what she was going through because he also had been infected with HIV Virus and had lived with it for over 3years.
To her, at that time, not knowing her status was way much better of than knowing because according to her if she didn’t know, she dint have to deal with the pressures, due to luck of understanding and inappropriate information about the subject. You know, when things came up on TV about AIDS or HIV, when they talked about it in school, she kind of ran away from it. You know, cut the channel, cover her eyes, ’cause she was scared of the facts, she didn’t want to know the facts, she wanted to stay ignorant to the subject . . . because as long as she was ignorant to the subject, she thought, Okay, I’m fine
According to Maurine being diagnosed with AIDS was the moment she found her voice. It was a life-changing moment for her. Her voice came out and it came out powerfully. It was like the Spirit opened her eyes. She felt like all the things that happened to her — the journey that she walked, from the sexual abuse she experienced as a child to all that followed, including many risky activities — had to happen in order for her to get her voice, to jar her into action. This is what she talks about with women, and sexual active youths who are more vulnerable and all those already infected — that they need to find their voices and be able to say “NO TO STIGMATISATION” and say it powerfully.
By Joining REPACTED (Rapid Effective Participatory Action in Community Theatre Education and Development) in 2005 an organization based in Nakuru county that uses unique programs i.e. “MAGNET THEATRE” to engage the youth and community at large in activities that improve they knowledge, change they attitude and sharpen they skills in matters of positive sexual behavior change, Maurine found a reliable and appropriate forum/platform to launch her campaign and venture into public speaking ,with the help of Collins Oduor The project manager at REPACTED and other qualified competent peer educators and volunteers based at this organization. Maurine was able to over stand that she had a story that needed to be told, and with the strong network of peer educators and volunteers at REPACTED she was encouraged and reminded that positive youth need a voice. There is a lack of storytelling among the youth, and this is especially true with positive youth. They feel shame or guilt for contracting the virus and feel that they need to lie about it and not be upfront.
It’s important that young people are given a chance to tell their stories without being judged. Speaking really helped Maurine articulate herself as a person. It gave her a new direction to go in — not only is it inspirational to other people, but it inspired her to clean up her life and make something positive of herself. Joining REPACTED has affected her in a positive way emotionally. Maurine is a very strong person now because of it, more educated and more life-experienced than a lot of 26-year-olds because of it. On the other side, she has started feeling more supported and appreciated as she is able to branch out into different kinds of communities. Maurine thinks she is kind of a rare breed she is here with REPACTED to inspire people. “I’m here, I’m a woman, I’m HIV positive, and I’m living my life positively and normally.” It can happen! It can happen.