Buyiswa Gcwabe is a mother of seven children and has AIDS. She is a member of the Treatment Action Campaign and is among the first group of 25 people to receive antiretroviral treatment funded by the TAC. Health-e travelled with her to her first appointment with the doctor who will monitor her treatment.
BUYISWA: Ndize apha neh for uzoku check(wa) ngugqirha lowo ozakundiguide(a) kwiARV’s. Ndisalindile ke! Okokuqala ndinolo ulwazanyana ukuba ndizakunikwa iidrugs I mean ndizakutreat(wa) ngee drugs although ndingazange ndizitye but ke ndingulamntu unikezelayo ukuba kuthiwa inempilo into ndiyazingenisa.
Translation: I came here for a doctor’s check up. I’m now waiting for a nurse to guide me. I have a slight idea that I came will be getting ARV drug treatment although I had never taken them but as long as I will get help it’s fine.
THANDEKA: Sele kungaphaya kweminyaka emibini iTAC ilwela ukufunyanwa kwamachiza kagawulayo kweli loMzantsi Afrika. Ngabantu abanjengo Buyiswa Gcwabe wase Mitchell’s Plain, ababengena bephuma bevakalisa ukungonwabi yindlela abantu abanogawulayo abaphathwa ngayo nalapho bebengafumani luncedo kumachiza asisithomalalisi kugawulayo.
Translation: It’s over two years since TAC has been fighting for the provision of ARV’s. It is people like Buyiswa Gcwabe of Mitchell’s Plain who have been trying hard to get the government to provide ARV drugs for the needy. She has been vocal in fighting for the rights of HIV positive people.
BUYISWA: Lenkqubo ndiyive kwaTAC, sabizwa mos siyigroup about 10 of us kwii-different branches sahamba sotsalwa iCD 4 counts which is igazi salishiya ke litsaliwe umntu nomntu after three days baye basibiza kwkhona basifundisa ivideo basifakela ama cassette evidio sibone umntu xa kuthiwa uneed(a) iiARV’s sube kutheni na okanye kufuneka uzigcine njani na emva koko senziwa icounselling abanye bethu babelila iinyembezi kodwa ke ndingulamntu owazixelela ukuba kunje kunje. Yaa ndisahamba but ebusuku kuyacaca ukuba noko noko kukhona izinto mna endizibonayo njengomntu omdala endizibonayo ukuba umhmh bekukade kunje kodwa noko ndiyaya egoal(ini) ngoku uyabona.
Translation: I heard about this Treatment Project at TAC, we were a group of 10 and we were taken to a private hospital and we did a CD4 count test. We were counseled and called in to watch a video that states clearly who needs ARVs and what to expect once you are taking them. Some people were crying during the whole exercise but I told myself that I’m HIV positive there’s nothing I can do about it. Although I am able to walk, I can feel that things are not the way they use to be I know that I’m not getting better.
THANDEKA: Ingaba mhlawumbi bakuxelele ke ukuba ukutya kufuneka utye njani nendlela yokuziphatha xa bebekucounsel(isha) zintoni abakuxelele zona?
Translation: Did they tell you how to handle your diet and behaviourial change?
BUYISWA:Okokuqala indlela yokuziphatha but ke abazange bandizulele kakhulu kwinidima yokuziphatha because ndabaxelela ukuba andinanto yokwenza nonmntu oyindoda mnanotywala futhi andibuseli okwesibini ukutya ndiyayazi ukuba kufuneka utye kakuhle especially ivege ibe ngathi uyayidwaba emathunjeni akho.
Translation: Firstly when we talk of behaviour I don’t want to lie. I don’t have anything to do with men and my mentor and counselors know that and I’m a non-drinker.
THANDEKA:Ingaba wayichazela ifamily yakho njengokuba kusithiwa kufuneka nebe nesupport?
Translation: Did you tell your family about your status?
BUYISWA: Kwabanzima kuqala ukuxelela abantwana but i-in-laws zam kuba ke andingowalapha ndingowaseMtata notata lowekhaya akuzange kube right wavele nje wabaleka nomnye waphuma wabaleka yanguriiii iyilonto. Ndacinga ukuba ke ngoku ndiza kuthini ngababantwana kuba because nabo ndizakuba loose(a) ngoluhlobo ndacinga ndacinga ndavalucango bebekele iTV ikhona itshomi yam eyayindiboleke iTV ndathi niphelele mos omnye uyafunda useUWC (University of the Western Cape) bathi ewe mama ndathi ndifuna ukuncokola nani and lento ndizakuyincokola nani kufuneka niyithathe oluhlobo nam ndiyithatha ngalo ndino baby ilast born yam ina – eight years ndathi bantwana bam njengokuba benindibona ndigula and andifuni ukuba lento niyithwale ezintlokweni zenu ibuhlungu but ke ndiHIV wathi lumncinci positive mama ndathi ke mnake ewe lolo wathi ke ngoku uzakuncedwa yintoni nathi ndizakuzi join(ela) uTAC lo ujoin(wa) ngabantu abanengculaza nam ndizakude ndibe right.
Translation: It wasn’t easy at first to tell my family about my status. I’m originally from Umtata, but my husband couldn’t take it. He ran away and everybody (my in-laws) followed suit and disappeared when I disclosed my status to them. I gave it a good thought and wondered what next because I didn’t want to lose my children too. I closed the door and called in all my children and the one who is a student at UWC. At the time they were watching TV that I borrowed from a friend. I told then there’s something I wanted to tell them and I asked them to be strong. They agreed. I told them that I’m HIV and the young one, my eight year old baby and the last born added ‘HIV positive Mama?’ and I said ‘yes baby, but I don’t want you to take this matter serious’. My baby asked me what are you going to do now? I told her that I’ll join TAC the organization that belongs to the HIV positive people and I’ll be fine.
THANDEKA: Ndimbuza ukuba abantwana bamthatha njani uthi wabashumayeza ukuba bayazi lentsholongwane khonukuze bayiqhele imeko yakhe:
Translation: I asked her, how do her children perceiving her now they know her status?
BUYISWA: Uyaqonda mos ezilokishini akubi right especially ebantwaneni ukuba bazi banomzali opositive so ndayilwa lonto ngokunokwam ukuba ndithethe ngayo umna mnikakazi wayo ukuba I’m HIV positive and I can’t change that.
Translation: You know how it’s like in the township. It’s not nice especially when children know that their mother is HIV positive but I made it crystal clear that I speak about it myself, a person living with the disease and I have accepted that I’m HIV positive and I can’t change that fact.
E-mail Thandeka Teyise