Negesti’s greatest desire is to care for her daughter, Metasebiyo. But there was a time she feared that wasn’t possible.
When Metasebiyo was 10 years old, Negesti learned that she was HIV-positive. Without family nearby, she did not have a support system or anyone to help her when she was too sick to work. She feared she and her daughter would both be rejected if anyone learned she was HIV-positive.
Metasebiyo cared for her mother as best she could, but without income, Negesti couldn’t afford to send Metasebiyo to school or buy food for them to eat. When she lost the ability to provide even the most basic necessities for her daughter, Negesti also lost all hope for the future.
However, our local partner learned of Negesti’s story. They persistently began to call her, telling her there was hope. They brought her food and told her they could help her. Negesti agreed to enroll in treatment and join a support group.
In the support group, Negesti found the community she had been missing. She found people with whom she could speak openly and honestly about what it is like to live with HIV. Together, they affirm one another for who they are, where they’ve come from, and the individual paths they’re walking. They share Scriptures with and encourage each other.
When people find the strength to step out of the shadows of their own shame, and become unafraid to live openly with their status, fear dissipates and stigma finally begins to fade.
Through the power of community, hope revealed itself to Negesti. The support group gave her strength to find her way forward.
Today, she is active in a community that cares for her. She sells vegetables in the local market to earn an income, and with help from our local partner, Metasebiyo attends school where she is working toward her dream of becoming a doctor. And now, Negesti has an encouraging message she likes to share with anyone she meets: “You can live and have hope!”