An HIV-peer educator with a heart for all
My name is Eva Tumwesigye, a trained counselor. I am mother to two sons aged 25 and 23 years. I have been widowed since 2001.
A month after my husband’s death, I started falling ill recurrently and that made me suspicious of my HIV status. To put my heart to rest, I went to test for HIV and it turned out positive. I was reluctant to start treatment since I wasn’t in any pain as I had imagined every HIV-positive person would crumble immediately. All that ran through my mind was to keep away from men, feed on a balanced diet, keep away from stress and work hard to raise my sons.
In 2006, I started getting weaker and losing a weight tremendously. I first thought of testing my boys and it was the biggest relief when they tested negative. Due to the fear of dying and leaving my children to suffer, I encouraged myself to come to Alive Medical Services (AMS) and start my ART treatment. I receive holistic care and support and this has enabled me to look this healthy and in fact no one can easily tell my HIV-status.
Today, I am glad to be stigma free and working with AMS as a volunteer peer educator. Being stigma free enables me to encourage my peers to live positively and reduce on the numbers of HIV related deaths and new infections in my community and this is what keeps me going.
Two years ago while carrying out my regular community visits, I found a lady who looked very sick and weak. After sharing with her my experience, she opened up to me about the loss of her husband a year before. Living with her three children and providing them with basic needs was tough. I discussed with her the importance of knowing her HIV-status and even disclosed to her my own status.
At the end of our discussion she had a smile on her face and was courageous enough to go for an HIV-test which turned out positive and she was given drugs. Today, she looks very strong and healthy and able to work and provide for her children. She confides in me, invites me to meet her friends and talk to them and she calls me her role model.
In the various trainings and capacity building meetings for peer educators at AMS, I have gained a lot of confidence, hope to live my life to the fullest, and I have been able to take up leadership positions in a women’s group at church and also able to take my children through the university education as a widow.
Am a proud peer educator and glad to be associated to AMS which is enabling me fulfill my dreams and also be an agent of positive living to other peers.