For years Sohka* suffered the disdain of other children in her village. Sohka’s father died of AIDS when she was three years old and her mother lives with HIV. “Everyone hated me and I didn’t have any friends to play with because they were afraid of HIV and AIDS,” she said crying. “My mother lives with HIV, but I love her so much.”
“I remember that my mother was really skinny with itchiness all over her body," she says. She looked dirty, she couldn’t move her body, and she seemed to have no energy. She couldn’t even go to the toilet by herself, my grandmother and I always had to help her to move. Everyday I cleaned her body with a wet towel because she couldn’t take a bath by herself.”
Sokha always made the long walk to school alone. “I was really depressed and angry with other children who used to say, ‘your mother lives with HIV and AIDS.’ I didn’t want to go to school and I really wanted to fight those children. Yet, I could only cry,” she shared.
In 2008, Sokha got a blood test to make sure that her mother hadn’t transmitted HIV to her. Luckily, Sokha tested negative. She is safe and that gives her mother hope for the future. The following year her mother was enrolled in a World Vision programme to help those living with HIV. She now receives support through regular access to anti-retroviral drugs as well as coaching for living a healthy life.
“Since my family became involved with World Vision, and everyone in the community is more educated about HIV and AIDS through World Vision’s work, life has improved," Sokha says. "Gradually everyone seemed to change and become more friendly towards my family. World Vision staff always conduct home visits and kept advising my mother. She looks healthy and stronger, and I always remind her to take treatment on time.”
World Vision’s support also includes training that help the family to have more economic opportunities. Sokha’s mother attended agriculture trainings. Sokha says, “My mother started planting vegetables and raising chickens at home after she attended the training. Before, nobody would buy the vegetables that my mother planted because they were afraid of getting the sickness from her. Now I have lots of friends and my mother has good relationships with all the neighbours.”
“I don’t want to think of our life in the past because it was such a nightmare. I dream of being a teacher, and I will educate everyone in the community to stop hating HIV and AIDS patients.”