Zunilda: “…my life lacked meaning…”
Hello. I’m Zunilda and I am living with the AIDS virus…
I come from a very dysfunctional family. With an alcoholic father, my mother had to do everything that my father failed to do. As a result, we were being abused by both of them; making us work long hours and study, and leaving little time to sleep. I soon tired of this life and at the age of 14 I escaped from home.
I lived in the streets and got involved with a gang. They taught me to smoke, drink, rob, go to parties and to have sexual relations. I lived that life until I turned 18, when I decided to return home to look for a change in my life. Then I became pregnant thinking that a child would help me to change, but sadly my life went from bad to worse. I left my child with my mother and continued even more with robbing and taking drugs. But even during this time I did not lose the hope that someday my life would change.
At the age of 20, after all that I had already experienced, I met R….. , a man that was older than I, but one who accepted me as I was. Thinking that this was my opportunity to change, I accepted. From the beginning this relationship was not what I had expected, because he drank a lot, just as I also did, and we ended up threatening each other with weapons in hand. Many times I attempted suicide and came to realize that my life lacked meaning. I started to look for help. That is when my mother, a Christian, took me to a church service. That night I talked to the pastor and opened my heart to God. It was a wonderful experience that I can’t fully explain.
Bit by bit my life changed, and two months later I was pregnant again. The doctors ordered routine blood work which included the Test Elisa where they discovered that I was HIV positive. When they informed me of this I remained silent because I knew that this was a consequence of bad decisions that I had made in my life.
My partner remained faithful to me even though he did not have the virus. I was given the antiretroviral treatment and had my baby by Caesarean Section. Two month after my baby was born, my partner had an accident that crippled him, and after another two months he passed away, and I had to face life alone.
During this time a person took me to Alto Refugio where I got to know more people with this disease. After a year of the death of my partner, I got to know my second partner, and even though he knew of my disease, he remained with me. Together we had two more children and they are healthy, praise the Lord.
After a few years together, his mother died and he returned to a life of drinking and drugs, often stealing from me to be able to acquire another fix. A few more years, now with the HIV virus, he started to suffer from other diseases like TB, hemorrhoids, diarrhea and thrombosis. Refusing to take his medications and with a low defense level, he lost a lot of weight – and died.
Once again I was on my own with my children. Making a tremendous effort, I learned to do honest work like recycling plastic, doing cleaning and making crafts. But now with more strength because I knew that God was with me. Even though my children are small, they have learned to help me by making and selling key chains and selling candies.
I praise the Lord that my life has changed and I can have what I always wanted – a house where I can be with my children, and to live an honest life, and be a virtuous woman as is portrayed in the Bible.
Now I am working at Alto Refugio, in cleaning and in the kitchen. I have also had the opportunity to work in reception and to give my testimony publicly in the AIDS education talks that Alto Refugio presents.