Living with her family in Chauk Township, Magway Region, Daw Aye lived a normal life just like the others, 11 years ago. However, the news of her husband being tested positive with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) brought a storm into her life and their family. Even using up all their hard-earned savings could not her husband and he passed away with AIDS eventually.
Daw Aye’s fate had gotten worse after her husband died. She became the only breadwinner for her two young kids and her 78 years old father. She also found out that she contracted HIV from her husband and she became depressed with the thought that she was going to die. With lots of discriminations in the community, the days were not as bright and cheerful as before for Daw Aye.
One day, World Vision reached out to Daw Aye to be a part of a community-based support group for HIV patients. There, she received psychosocial and physical support, and also meeting with other patients gave her hopes to keep on living. After that, she actively participated in the support group and became a volunteer for supporting and comforting new patients like her. Because of her enthusiasm and sharing her experience based on her life, she quickly became popular among new patients.
“The support group gave me a new life. When I first found out that I have HIV, the lack of knowledge makes me depressed and costed a fortune. I don’t want my fellow patients to experience like that. That’s why I decided to dedicate my time and life to be part of this support group,” says Day Aye.
Daw Aye and her support group collaborate with INGOs such as World Vision sharing knowledge and personal experiences about HIV in schools and events on World AIDS Day and other special occasions. Also on every Wednesday, the support group volunteer at Township general hospital’s Anti-retroviral treatment clinic and Integrated HIV Care center, distributing ART
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world. Myanmar is also one of the countries which was affected and the government has practised lockdown in every major state and region since April 2020. However, that did not stop Day Aye and the support group from volunteering at township general hospital on every Wednesday. They consulted with township authorities and health service providers to reopen the ART clinic and IHC center according to the preventive guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Sports. Now, Daw Aye and the support group can continue doing their voluntary work for fellow patients.
“Even though we were afraid of the coronavirus, we thought about our fellow patients who are depending on ART. On the other hand, we felt safe because the local authorities built barriers in the clinic and gave preventive guidelines for distributing the medicines,” says Daw Aye.
For someone who was once had the darkest days of her life, Daw Aye is now the light and hope for other HIV patients.