The Understanding of HIV-Aids Face
UBAH ELMI, not the real name, is a mother and widow of 30 years old living with HIV-Aids.. She has two beautiful children, a son, named Ahmed and a daughter with the name of Ilhan. She now lives in Lasdacwo- Sahil Somaliland.
Lasdacawo is just a small and remote village in Sahil which lies about 55 km, South West of Berbera. About 300 families live in there who get their livelihood through animal husbandry and agricultural products. Services of all sorts are hardly in here. Though the road to Laska is bumpy and rough it has a better climate. This is where Ubah’s parental ancestors originate from.
Just a couple of years ago, Ubah had a flourishing Kat (Qaad) business in Berbera where she used to sell Kat to Port workers and drivers. While engaging in this activity, she married the second husband, Omar Ali. Omer is a lorry driver who takes ration food to Ethiopia and earns a lot good money.
While talking to us, she said,
“I married two times. My children’s father, the former, was a primary school teacher who passed away naturally just five years ago. He was so passionate and responsible person indeed. After a year and so, I got married to the second in Berbera. God has not blessed children between us. Unfortunately my last husband died because of HIV-Aids.”
A few weeks later of her last husband’s death, Ubah began experiencing severe flu-like symptoms, a common sign of an early HIV infection. Five months after that, she had her diagnosis: HIV. At the time of her diagnosis, Ubah, was living in Berbera.
HPA – A Beacon of Hope
Ubah is grateful to UK-aid funded projects handled by HPA. A times of difficulty from the members of the society where stigma is common phenomena, HPA drama team went there to perform a drama on the theme of HIV-AIDs on which people learned a lot. She was too keen to share her feelings about Saxan saxo programme aired twice in Radio Hargeisa that addresses health issues, such as HIV-Aids. She repeatedely said that behaviors community changed mechanisms were of great help to her.
Ubah had to take 4 to 5 hours bumpy drive to Berbera or Hargeisa, the nearest towns, for VTC and medical treatment. But now HPA took the health services closer to her. The health facility in Lasdacw is always open. It now provides VTC services and regularly gives guidance and counseling to Ubah.
“We take a lot of care about Ubah’s health. She gets food and nutrition’s from here for free. The qualified nurses are 24/7 available to give ARV and provide guidance and counseling to PLWHIV like Ubah. That way, we assist them and give the respect they are due”- a health worker at the Lasdacwo facility commented on.
Ubah says with eagerness,
“The early days, the journey was too long and expensive, but now I am happy that every service is just a stone-thrown distance away from me.”
Take Care of Yourself
Ubah takes medicine daily—one pill, once a day. And it’s working: “Within two months of beginning this medicine, my viral load became undetectable.” Ubah eats well and exercises often, and besides an issue with her cholesterol level (a common side effect of HIV medicine), she’s in great health.
Ubah now survives on their animals’ meat and milk. She starts her life again and opened a small kiosk where she sells tea and cooks food. Here is how she gets her livelihood and brings up her kids.
Always Be Open
Ubah has a good morale and lives with rest of the society in peace. She has no problems thus far from her ancestral home. Business is as usual for her. She felt no problem to talk to us and she further urges us to talk about this issue in public so that people avoid it. HIV/Aids is not a curse, it is like any other diseases!