“My father put me out and now he say he will tek back me son, but he don’t want me back at the house. Right now, I stressed but what I gun do I can’t just sit down and think about it whole day. Is not the first time he put me out and he does tek me back in, but he does ill treat me and sometimes I just don’t able especially with me situation.” The 22-year-old mother of three speaking is HIV positive. She agreed to speak to me through an acquaintance of the Guyana Community of Positive Women and Girls (GCWAG). Following our conversation, I felt so helpless and as an avid believer in God I confess that at that point I sadly questioned His existence. If ever there was someone who was never given a chance to thrive, it was her. What struck me too was that she was emotionless for most of our conversation; it was like life has been so difficult throughout her years that she has become immune.
She continued, “And to be honest I not even sure why he put me out. He start with me stepmother first… I was listening to music on a cheap phone and just so he come and cuff me in my face and start embarrassing me in front of he friends.
“He throw out me clothes in the yard and right now it by a cousin and he tell me move out. Wah I coulda do? I had to move and I come by [name provided] and is hay I sleeping since. And he don’t treat anybody else like that, me stepsister dem and suh he don’t do it to them is just me. Now when [name provided] arrange fuh put me son [he is two years old] in a home and I call and tell he, he say how the boy could come back but not me. One of me stepsister dem say they guh help to send he to day care and so. And once dem want he, I would send he because I prefer he by dem and not in a home,” she said.
“And is not he alone I get, I got another big son [a five-year-old] and he didn’t come with me because he father does live not far and he father does tek care of he and so and I just leff he right there. The last one [a baby] well I give he to [name provided] because I can’t mind he and he father don’t have no time. He father did want kill me when he find out I HIV positive.
“You know how I get this thing [HIV]? Is just so me father quarrelling and treating me bad and he put me out. I meet this man he was like 30-something and I bin like 15 and he see me and tek me in and I start living with he. I use to see he using all dem tablets, but he tell me was for diabetes and high pressure. Then just so one day I get so sick, I start to spit blood and I couldn’t even walk.
“Me stepmother carry me to the hospital and the doctor run all kinda test but nothing. Then they do a HIV test and I tell you when the thing come back and I positive I coulda drop dead right deh. Is like me life been over.
“After I get me first child, I meet another man and this man now tell me leh we go to Suriname and work together and build a life. But me ain’t know is traffic he de want traffic me. When we meet over there, he start locking me up in a room whole day and den night time I use to had to go and pick fare and he use to tek all deh money and gamble and drink.
“Is the woman we use to live by, one day feel sorry for me because he use to beat me bad to. And is she help to pay for me passage to come back to Guyana. I lef one day when he went out and when I come back, I [realized I] was pregnant. I believe is he own because when I pick fare I used to use condom. But I don’t want me child [the two-year-old] to have nothing to do with he because he is not a good man right now the police looking fuh he for trafficking. “When I come back, I just living and I meet me last child father but I didn’t tell he that I got HIV. When he find out after the baby born and so he de want kill me. He is a police and he had a gun and so but I never see he back. I does see the man who give me this thing, but I don’t say anything to he because if I worry with he I would just kill he.” For the first time in the recital of her life’s woes, there was a spark of emotion – anger.
“I grow up with me father because since I born me mother living on the streets. I don’t really know the story because my father don’t talk about it. But people does tell me how she does deh eating out the rubbish bin and so. When she feel good she use to come and look for me and talk to me but is a long time she didn’t come is like she really gone full outs now,” she continued.
“I have a big brother and we does talk, is me mother son, but he don’t help me or anything but we does talk. Look I don’t care if she mad or anything she is still me mother and I wouldn’t disown she, I still love she.” There was a hint of passion in her speech and then she paused for a while. I asked her if she was sent to school as a child. “Yes. I went to school up to fifth form, but I didn’t write CXC because my father said he didn’t have no money,” she said.
I asked her what she wants in life.
“I just want a job, so I can find a lil place fuh me self. I use to work for a hotel and one day I call and say I was sick and I can’t come to work and the woman just terminate me. I carry she to labour but I waiting to hear if I would get any money.
“Right now I living with [name provided] and I feel free here and so and she say she will help me so I will just stay here and find a work or something. I don’t tek it on, I don’t study them things anymore, I just free up me mind,” she said bringing the conversation to an end.
I wanted to ask her more but was unclear how to proceed and she silently handed the conversation to the official from GCWAG, who, as if on cue, began to speak.
She indicated that she would assist the young mother as much as possible but wanted to ensure that she was taking her medication as prescribed.
“Right now, I don’t like how she is looking and I believe she has stopped taking the medication. So I am going to go with her to the next doctor’s appointment.
“I will try to get her a job but she don’t even have a birth certificate or an ID card and I have to try and get those for her first,” the woman said.
She is in the process of adopting the woman’s youngest child whom she has had since he was days old, but she indicated that she could not accommodate the two-year-old and was indeed about to have him placed in a home through the relevant authorities.
“I am going to keep her for as long as I could and help her to get some assistance, but it is not easy and there are so many of them. People are just not treating their relatives with HIV kind, they are putting them out on the streets and many of them have nowhere to go,” the woman said sadly.
Persons interested in learning more about GCWAG can call 691-7297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.