Today we organised a special youth meeting, to meet two of our visitors we have staying with us at the moment. Brenda and her boyfriend Davy. Brenda is very familiar to the HIV+ youth that we have had living with us in Amecet. Brenda is HIV+ and she is very open about her status.
Her foster mother wrote a book about her; "There is a little dragon in Brenda's blood". She calls the HIV virus a little dragon. As long as we take our ARV medicines, the dragon stays asleep, but when we skip our medicines, the dragon will wake up and will make us sick. This little book has helped us a lot to explain to the children what HIV is and what it does in our body.
We have had contact with Brenda and with her mother, When I was in Holland in 2012, I was able to visit Brenda, together with my four daughters.
(Sarah, Brenda with Cathy, Mary)
Begin of this year, Brenda approached us with the question if she could come for some weeks, together with her boyfriend. So that is how they came in Amecet. After talking with Brenda and Davy we asked her if she would be open to meet our youth and share with them. Brenda and Davy were very open to that. So we organised a meeting with our youth, who is HIV+ and have lived with us in the past and we also gave some invitations to some of the Organisations who also work with HIV+ youth. It was only possible for the youth who lives in Soroti, but we had a group of around 45 people. Half of the group came from other organisations and met us for the first time.
We all sat under the tree in the garden of our Amun home. Brenda shared about her HIV+ status and how she came as a refugee in The Netherlands, where her mother died of AIDS. How she was taken into a Dutch family and how she lives positive with her HIV+ status.
Then Davy shared, how they started their relationship and how Brenda had shared with him that she was HIV+. I was very impressed by their openness and their desire to help others to be open. There were a lot of questions from the youth, they all struggle with the same, it is scary to be open, what if the people will reject you???
Of course there are differences in the culture in Uganda and the Netherlands, It was also good for Brenda and Davy to hear the struggles of the youth in Uganda. But there was a real openness, being HIV+ united everybody. They knew where the other was talking about and there was understanding. At the end of the meeting there were still more questions to ask and experiences to share, everybody had enjoyed and many participated. We might organise more meetings like this, not always with teaching or a programme, but to listen to one another and to feel free and safe enough to ask questions and to share about your struggles.
Brenda and Davy, thank you so much for your honest story and you humble example!!