14
Sep
07

Cambodia and Ethiopia: Real life stories of people living with HIV & hunger

2006 WFP/A K Kimoto Chea and her husband Hom receive a WFP food ration, which helps ensure that their TB and anti-retroviral treatment is as effective as possible.

Cambodia: Chea, Hom and Nob Nem

11 August 2006 – Chea, 36, worked as a construction laborer in Phnom Penh. “I don’t know when I became HIV-positive but we were both tested in 2005 during Hom’s pregnancy.”

“I am on anti-retroviral therapy but now I have TB. At the moment I am too ill to work, though I am slowly improving and want to work again,” said Chea.

Normally he earns roughly $US7.50 per month.

Making ends meet

Hom brings in a small income by recycling rice bags into ropes for leading cattle.

It is labour intensive work and she manages to make 100 to 200 ropes per month, which sell for $US1.50 per hundred.

“Both our families sold their land and cattle in order to pay for treatment and food for us,” she explained.

After giving birth to their daughter, Hom required blood transfusions which finished the money completely.

Reflecting on the future

“We have nothing except our healthy baby,” she added. The baby’s grandmother, Nob Nem, is visibly upset as she contemplates the family’s future.

The baby is her first grandchild and she has spent much time with her while Hom was ill.

“We are accepted in the village. Whenever anyone needs anything we are there,” Nob Nem says.

The family relies on Partners in Compassion, a local non-governmental organization for assistance.

The package of care they receive includes a food ration from WFP, which helps ensure that the TB and anti-retroviral treatment that Chea and Hom receive is as effective as possible.

Ethiopia: Tsehai Tesfaye

My name is Tsehai Tesfaye. I’m 37 years old and come from a very poor family.

I have never worked other than being a sex worker. Any guy who would pay me for love was welcome. This was how I earned a living.

As I was going out with different men, I was often sick with sexually transmitted infections.

Poor health

I have a feeling I got the virus from the one man I fell in love with. The guy was handsome, had a good job that paid him well.

We had a decent life for some time. But I started getting sick, so we separated.

Three years ago, I was tested and told that I am HIV-positive. Now my health is sporadic. I have an aching chest, a sore throat and a cough.

In this clinic where you found me, there were some 30 of us who were taking treatments for HIV.

Surviving

Most have died and the few of us still alive survive thanks to the Community Based Integrated Sustainable Development Organization.

I’m also receiving food. Thanks to the organization, I’m receiving 30 kilo grammes of wheat and some cooking oil.

I’m actually well fed and am not induced to go the other way to earn a living.

Family infected

I head a family of nine, seven of whom are my children. Three in the family – my youngest daughter, my brother and myself – are living with the HIV virus.

My youngest daughter was almost always sick and losing weight. So I took her to the health center where they told me the reality. I think she got it from me.

I’m doing my part for my 20-year-old daughter to prevent her from falling into the miserable life I led.

Young as she is, I’m advising her to be careful in her life. I don’t know to what extent I’ll be successful.

Good nutrition vital

Now I see one big problem. If I fall ill for a longer period of time, that may force my three young kids to look after me, which will eventually affect their schooling.

I openly tell to all I have the virus in my body and advise them they should be watchful not to be infected.

I even warn those who have the virus that they should eat nutritious food as much as possible so they live longer.

When I don’t eat well, the illness becomes worse; all my body becomes full of rashes. Had it not been for the food I am still getting, you wouldn’t have seen me talking to you now.

World Food Programme 

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2 Responses to “Cambodia and Ethiopia: Real life stories of people living with HIV & hunger”


  1. September 28, 2007 at 4:29 am

    Could you please email me at ron (dot) hudson (at) verizon (dot) net. I would like to include this post in the October International Carnival of Pozitivities at http://www.internationalcarnivalofpozitivities.blogspot.com. Our deadline is 2 October. If you agree, just send me an email giving permission and I will do the work.

    Peace to you.

    Ron Hudson


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